Officer in custody over leaks on Reyhanlı attack

Officer in custody over leaks on Reyhanlı attack

Officer in custody over leaks on Reyhanlı attack

A group of Syrian refugees are seen on a lorry leaving bomb-hit Reyhanlı district after the May 11 attack since they became the target of angry locals. DHA photo

A gendarmerie officer suspected of leaking secret documents to a Turkish hacker group has been taken into custody, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik has said as the prime minister called on the media to act in a sensitive manner in such issues. 

“This is not an issue of hacking,” Çelik told reporters today in Ankara. “A private from gendarmarie took photos of the documents with his mobile and sent them. This was made clearand he was detained,” he said. The case was a leaking, he confirmed. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, said during a joint press meeting today with the EU President Herman van Rompuy in Ankara that giving the names of organizations would help their propaganda, warning the media. “These issues are closely followed by the intelligence,” he said. 

Some 51 people were killed in an attack in the Reyhanlı district of the southern province of Hatay on May 11. RedHack leaked some documents on May 22 belonging to the Gendarmerie Intelligence Department that claimed that an anti-government group in Syria with links to al-Qaeda was planning a car bomb attack that might occur in Turkey.

“The [documents] were not procured by hacking the Gendarmerie General Command’s website,” Interior Minister Muammer Güler said still in Ankara yesterday. “It was determined that an identified officer at the provincial Gendarmerie command has taken a picture of these papers, which were due to be sent to the subordinate troops, and transmitted to the hackers via email. The investigation on the incident is continuing,” Güler said. 

He also implied that the leaked documents were authentic. “Some of the information mentioned referred to intelligence reports on attack preparations of certain terrorist groups. There are some parts related with Reyhanlı,” Güler said. He also added that the Turkish authorities were certain that the May 11 bombings were carried out by individuals linked with the Syrian intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, as previously stated. “We don’t have any doubt about who organized the Reyhanlı attack.”

Deputy PM Beşir Atalay confirmed that the Turkish officials already had information about al-Qaeda plans. “These are private subjects of the security forces. We are so tuned into the determination of terror. Turkey previously performed very important operations against al-Qaeda. … A group of people were detained in Hatay yesterday as a result of intelligence information,” Atalay told reporters speaking at the 38th International Human Rights Federation Congress held in Istanbul.

When Atalay was asked the reason for the Turkish security forces’ failure to avoid the attack, he said the negligence claims were being investigated by the Prime Minister’s Office Supervisory Board.

Meanwhile the Interior Ministry said in an official statement that the leaked documents did not have any connection with the May 11 bombings.

Some 18 people have been detained in the Reyhanlı investigation so far, among which 12 were arrested, while six were released pending trials.

Suspect innocent, victim of witch hunt: RedHack

Meanwhile, the hacker group said the officer detained for allegedly leaking the documents was innocent. “If that officer is the person that leaked us information, how is that we knew before them that a witch hunt was launched among the military that they would sacrifice ‘innocent’ officers?” the group said via Twitter. 

Redhack had twitted hours before Çelik’s announcement that officials tried to put the blame on a “poor soldier.”