5 million Turkish people wiretapped in one year: Interior minister

5 million Turkish people wiretapped in one year: Interior minister

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
5 million Turkish people wiretapped in one year: Interior minister

DHA Photo

Some 5 million people in Turkey were listened in on in 2012, Interior Minister Efkan Ala has stated, referring to a calculation that around 250,000 people who were wiretapped spoke to at least 20 people on the phone. He blamed officers affiliated with the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen for the scandal.

“A decision was made [to wiretap] one person, but that person speaks to tens of people. Imagine that he or she spoke to 20 other people - this adds up to 5 million people,” Ala said told state-run Anadolu Agency. 
“All these [conversations] were stored and used for blackmailing or threatening. How can such a thing happen?” he asked. 

Blaming the “parallel structure,” the term used to refer to the followers of Gülen, who is today an arch foe of the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ala said permissions for the wiretapping of 250,000 individuals were “abused,” with many people wiretapped even without a permission notice. 

“Their targets were the president, the prime minister, the general staff, the Constitutional Court, the headquarters of army forces, ministries, the National Intelligence Service [MİT], the Foreign Ministry, the heads and children of NGOs, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, businesspeople, political parties and their branch offices, bureaucrats, and journalists. This is unbelievable,” he said.

The interior minister said the state is now investigating where these wiretapping recordings are being stored. 

He said many people involved in the illegal wiretappings were from the police department, adding that specific items of equipment had been imported from Denmark and used to detect and wiretap the voice of the then-prime minister Erdoğan in even a noisy room.

Some 3,329 people in the police department are currently under investigation in relation to the issue, while 510 people have been removed from their posts. Some 251 have been officially fired, while the files of 776 people have demands for their removal, Ala added.

Regarding the case on the eavesdropping of the office of the prime minister, Ala said the government had knowledge about the whereabouts of five key missing suspects.

Four out of 11 suspects were arrested on Jan. 22 as a part of the vast espionage investigation, which includes allegations of illegal wiretapping of top ranking state officials, including Erdoğan. 

The Gölbaşı Public Prosecutors Office in Ankara had demanded that 28 people be detained as a part of the probe into the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). 

An Ankara court conducted its first hearing on Jan. 2 in a case into the wiretapping of Erdoğan’s offices, with some of the leader’s top guards accused of planting bugs to eavesdrop on him.

Erdoğan’s advisor Mustafa Varank, who was the prime ministry undersecretary at the time, testified at a hearing on Feb. 4, saying that he oversaw the process of removal of bugs at Erdoğan’s office. 

There are 13 total suspects, but five police officers who are implicated in the case have yet to be apprehended.

Erdoğan’s attorney Ali Özkaya said Sedat Zavar and Enes Çiğci, two of the missing suspects, demanded passports for their wives from the Turkish mission in Serbia. 

Ala said the government had knowledge about the whereabouts of five missing suspects in the case into the eavesdropping of the prime minister’s office. 

Özkaya has demanded the seizure of assets of the suspects and an international notice for their arrest.