Half million wiretapped in Turkey in last two years: Communications body
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s telecommunication authority TİB revealed that more than half a million people were wiretapped in various probes over the last two years. DHA photoTurkey’s telecommunication authority has revealed that more than half a million people were wiretapped in the last two years.
Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) has been preparing a report on wiretapping amid reports that calls of several politicians, journalists and businessmen had been tapped.
A total of 257,545 people were wiretapped in 2012, and 252,062 people were wiretapped in 2013, according to the report. Over the two years, some 1.1 million phone calls of 509,516 people were tapped.
A total of 217,863 court decisions were made for wiretappings in that period.
Minister of National Defense İsmet Yılmaz said the numbers had gotten out of hand.
“I leave it to our people’s conscience,” he said. “This number is not an appropriate one. Those numbers have gotten out of hand.”
He added some of the wiretappings were made with intelligence aims and some were made in probes on crime organizations.
“That is how wiretappings work,” Yılmaz said. “They give your phone number. They consider you as a member of a terrorist organization and tap your phone calls for two years. If you listen to somebody for two years, you will definitely find some crime, cutting some parts from back and forth. As a result, with the new law, the legal period to wiretap was limited.”
The TİB report came amid a flurry of leaks of phone calls involving some of the country’s top political figures, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ministers and businessmen.
After media reports, it was also discovered that thousands of people - including Erdoğan, Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, and a range of journalists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives - had been wiretapped as part of various probes.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) finds these cases are strengthening its claims about a “parallel state.”
The term “parallel state” is now commonly used by critics to refer to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has been in voluntary exile in the United States for over a decade.
The alleged “parallel state” is accused by Erdoğan of orchestrating a corruption scandal to unseat him.
The related investigation became public in mid-December and triggered a huge counter-reaction from the AKP, particularly in the judiciary, as it aimed to contain the damage from the probe, which involved the sons of three former ministers and businesspeople known to be close to the government.
In a response to reports by daily Star and Yeni Şafak, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who was also on the lists containing thousands of names wiretapped, said such wiretapping was “unacceptable.”
“According to these people, [those who carried out the wiretapping] are the real owners of the state and we are the parallel structure,” he said last month.