Probe exposed PKK spy ring: Deputy PM
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ speaks in front of a poster of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party. AA photoGiving the government’s first damage report after a Turkish prosecutor called senior intelligence officers to testify in an alleged terror probe, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said many spies had been uncovered and “years of efforts have been squandered” as a result of procedural errors in the investigation.
Bozdağ argued the turmoil arose from the misinterpretation of missions carried out by National Intelligence Agency (MİT) officers.
“I cannot think of a greater mistake than to consider people who have infiltrated terrorists as people cooperating with terrorists,” he said. “One cannot infiltrate them without committing a crime. The charges stem not from the law but from interpretations.
“MİT is tasked with gathering intelligence and informing the relative parties; intervening at the time of action is not its job,” he said in a televised interview yesterday, adding that giving a task to the agency other than gathering intelligence was not possible.
“In such case, the identity of the involved agent is compromised,” said Bozdağ. “These are dangerous tasks; if an agent is compromised he can lose his life. People doing this job make great sacrifices for their country and its people.”
Ankara was left perplexed last week after a specially authorized prosecutor summoned MİT Chief Hakan Fidan and two retired officials for questioning over past talks with the outlawed Kurdish militants in Oslo in the investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Fidan, as well as Afet Güneş and Emre Taner, did not appear in court to provide testimony, arguing the prosecutors needed the prime minister’s permission to question them.
The prosecutors sought to question the suspects in relation to a number of claims, including charges pertaining to MİT operatives who allegedly transgressed their duties to infiltrate the KCK and gather intelligence by actually facilitating the KCK’s administration instead, according to media reports. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the United States and the European Union.
The deputy prime minister also brushed aside the criticism and rejected comparisons with the case of former Army Chief Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who was arrested last month on charges of “leading a terrorist organization” despite a wave of outrage.
On the suggestions that the government itself was the real target, Bozdağ said: “To give credit to any of those scenarios is to accept that foreign powers control the judiciary. The implications are in any case terrifying. We believe that basing the reality on such suggestions will greatly harm the country.”
[HH] AKP braces for critical amendment
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set to rush through Parliament this week an amendment aimed at shielding MİT members, risking fresh tensions with opposition parties infuriated by the bill.
The proposed amendment to the act regulating the MİT said the agency’s employees and those assigned to a special task by the prime minister can’t be prosecuted without his permission for crimes that arise from the nature of their duties, crimes they commit while carrying out their duties or for offenses that fall under the jurisdiction of special authority courts.
The draft will be taken up at Parliament’s Justice Commission tomorrow, and the AKP is expected to expedite procedures as much as possible so as to have the bill approved in the General Assembly this week.
The bill appears set to fuel fresh tensions with the opposition, which argues the amendment is tailor-made for a single person and thus unacceptable. Some observers said the vote could also prove another test for AKP unity in the wake of the recent controversy over the match-fixing law that exposed cracks in the party ranks.
The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, vowed his party would do all it could to stop the bill. He called instead for the abolition of the special authority courts, which he has long denounced as tools to bully government critics and suppress the opposition.
“This bill would enable Erdoğan to set up special gangs within the state. This is a massacre of law,” Kılıçdaroğlu said over the weekend.
“There is one thing the prime minister fails to understand. If you encourage state institutions to act as hit men against each other today, you don’t know whom the barrel will point at tomorrow,” he said.
Turkey faced a growing problem of democracy, Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding “it’s time to see the reality and wake up from sweet dreams.”
Co-Chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtaş said, “The government must give up on any arrangement that is tailor-made for a certain person. It should focus on measures that would serve democracy such as the abolition of the special-authority courts and the anti-terror law.”
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) insisted Fidan should agree to questioning. “If soldiers are testifying, the MİT chief should also,” MHP Deputy Chair Reşat Doğru said.