Putrefaction 2.0

Putrefaction 2.0

İSMET BERKAN iberkan@hurriyet.com.tr
We thought the recordings of the telephone conversation between (former) State Minister Eyüp Aşık and mafia boss Alaattin Çakıcı was the point where the state had hit the bottom. I had then used the word “putrefaction;” which means (for people and societies) to decay, to become rotten.

Well, come and take a look at today. Not a day passes without us hearing the voice of the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey in a phone recording. Again, not a day passes without us reading a phone transcript of Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of trying to run Turkey from the U.S.

The “putrefaction” we have witnessed at the end of the 90s was the opening of the curtain actually in this field. I chose the name of what we are witnessing today, based on the computer language, as “Putrefaction 2.0.”

On one side, the source is offices of prosecutors and police. The voice recordings of the prime minister are coming from there. These are allegedly “legal eavesdropping.” Even though we learn from its content how the PM is controlling the media every moment, it is impossible to understand based on what charge the “last” recording was carried out. Even it may be called “legal,” this is actually an illegal wiretapping because there is no relation with a crime.

On the other side, the source of the pouring voice records must be state agencies (maybe the police). However, I do not think there are any court decisions for this wiretapping. They are absolutely illegal recordings because there is no known crime investigation there.

Oddly enough, both sides are complaining about illegal phone tapping, condemning with strong words the exposing of private life.

On one hand they are angry and they condemn but on the other hand they use these recordings to overcome their “enemies.”

The computer records everything

According to our wiretapping regulation, the offices of the prosecutors send their wiretapping demands to the courts. If the court finds the demand suitable, then it sends the demand to the Directorate of Telecommunication (TİB) headquartered in Ankara. Then the telephone the number of which has been conveyed here starts being recorded.

For how long? As long as the court has ruled.

Let’s say your phone is being tapped. Seven days of the week, for 24 hours, the computer records your phone, whoever you speak to. Then these records are sent to the office of the prosecutor. The prosecutors have them transcribed by their staff.

Whether or not the conversations are related to the investigated crime is determined only after that. In other words, after the prosecutor or the police has read them.

Since this is the procedure, this is how these records are done including those matters that are part of private life, that have nothing to do with the crime investigated but those that draw the attention of the eavesdropper, which are full of chitchat or matters below the belt.

According to the same regulation, those conversations that are not related to the alleged crime should be destroyed but they are not because the law does not have a mechanism to monitor the wire-tapper.

The new order that is trying to be introduced to wiretapping now does not contain any feature to eliminate any of the inconveniences I counted.

İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published Feb. 7. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.