Four suspects arrested in Turkey’s espionage probe

Four suspects arrested in Turkey’s espionage probe

ANKARA – Cihan News Agency
Four suspects arrested in Turkey’s espionage probe

AA Photo

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

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).

Fifteen of the 26 suspects were released by the prosecutor after questioning, while 11 suspects were sent to court. The court arrested four of the 11 suspects, including Osman Nihat Şen, the former deputy head of the TİB, who was detained on Jan. 21 in front of the court where he had arrived with his lawyers to testify.

The suspects face charges including “spying,” “destroying the unity of the state,” and “wiretapping both crypto-secure and regular telephones.”

Five of the 26 suspects were released on probation, while two others were released after further questioning.

One person was formally released after testifying via video link due to health problems, while one other is still expected to hand himself in. 

Hasan Palaz, the former vice president of TÜBİTAK, who was released on probation, spoke to the media while leaving the courthouse, saying they had been detained “without any concrete evidence,” and were being asked to prove that they are innocent.

“There is no evidence, but they are asking [us] to prove that we are not guilty. First the prosecutor did it and then the judge,” he said, adding that he would appeal the probation ruling.

Three of the wiretapped crypto-secure phones belonged to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and one of these was likely used by his son Bilal Erdoğan.

Speaking on Jan. 21, President Erdoğan said he knew that he had been wiretapped on a number of occasions when he was prime minister. “This is an issue that I have been talking about for the past two years,” he told reporters.