Policing must not consist of phone tapping only

Policing must not consist of phone tapping only

It was the main headlines on the papers the other day that more than 100 police executives were detained within the context of a “spying investigation” launched in Istanbul.  

It is too early to say, but from the statements of the office of the prosecutor and from claims leaked to the papers, it is understood that the essence of the investigation is certain wiretaps conducted by these police directors.

Well, why were the phones of the police directors intercepted? They were monitored in order to find and collapse an organization called “Tevhid-Selam,” one which was spying for Iran.

Just imagine, there is an organization that is spying for Iran and is claimed to have been able to reach the undersecretary level of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), to Cabinet ministers, to other high level people and even to the close aides of the prime minister and the only investigation tool against this organization you have in your hand is phone tapping.

There is something wrong with this.    

Either, the “organization” you are referring to is not on the scale you are presenting as if it is, or maybe it does not exist. Or, yes, maybe you are right in your suspicions and there is a giant leakage, a spying network, but you were not able to leak into this organization even though you have known about it for years and are not able to evidence its actions and relationships with methods other than phone taps.   
Anyway, my aim is not writing about this “Tevhid-Selam” organization or the other organization, the “parallel structure.” I want to continue writing about the new legal/administrative regulations that are in the horizon for phone taps. The last operation is only another example for me, only that.

I do not know what the latest figures are but, at any given moment, (For you, while you are reading this sentence) exactly 80,000 people’s phones were intercepted based on court decisions. If these people spoke to an average of 25 people every month, then it becomes that conversations of 2 million people have been recorded. After a three-month period of eavesdropping, you would be recording 6 million people. This makes more than 10 percent of the adult population.

In Turkey, for more than 20 years, public prosecutors have been submitting phone record transcripts to courts as evidences. Actually, courts and the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) could have stopped this practice and could have introduced serious restrictions to the usage of phone taps as evidence. But, thanks to the contradictory rulings of the Supreme Court, these restrictions were not introduced and seeing this, prosecutors as well as the police counted more and more on collecting phone taps.

Our laws normally do not allow phone taps except for organized crime investigations, including terror and drug trafficking. But it is the prosecutor who decides what crime to base the investigation on and an article in the law that permits phone taps are used in investigations. Later, even if the prosecutor does not open the case based on that particular article, the phone records are already obtained and are placed in the court file.

This is one aspect of the situation. It is obvious that the whole matter is abused, that policing has been downgraded to wiretapping only and other evidence finding activities come in second place.
It should be the police first to react to this situation actually, whose duty is to “find the truth” but, no, they have not.

But, again, actually, the legal phone taps which I have been explaining above are only a small part of the issue of our entire issue of phone taps.