Russian intelligence unable to crack phone of Russian Ambassador Karlov’s assassin
A Russian intelligence team was unable to crack the phone of Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the assassin who in late 2016 shot dead former Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, daily Hürriyet reported on March 9.
The team of Russian specialists, who travelled to Ankara, became the latest group to fail to crack Altıntaş’s phone.
Following the failure, Turkish authorities have contacted a private company which will reportedly be arriving in Turkey for the mission in April.
In December 2017, however, files on a hard disk belonging to Altıntaş were cracked by the Russian intelligence service.
As part of Turkey and Russia’s joint investigation ongoing since last year, Turkish intelligence services initially completed their examination of the hard disk of Altıntaş’s laptop but were unable to retrieve the erased documents.
The Russian intelligence services then requested to take the hard disk to Russia, promising “an alternative way” to examine the hard drive.
The Russian intelligence services say they were able to locate two deleted files on the drive including the keywords “Fethullah Gülen” and 690 deleted files including the keyword “Hizmet,” a word that means “service” in Turkish and is used by sympathizers to refer to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Reports on Dec. 18 stated that social media posts and e-mails sent by Altıntaş were determined to have been deleted with the help of a virtual computer.
According to findings in the investigation, members linked to the Gülen network managed to connect to Altıntaş’s mobile phone via VPN around the time of the assassination, deleting his Gmail and Facebook conversations.
The Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) is believed by the Ankara government to have been behind Turkey’s July 2016 military coup attempt.
As a part of investigations ongoing since last year a total of 33 suspects have testified, and seven people, including two police officers and Guru Media Broadcast Group Chairman Hayreddin Aydınbaş, were previously arrested in connection to the assassination.
A former police officer, Ramazan Yücel, who was dismissed from his post over alleged links to the Gülen network, was arrested on Dec. 14 in connection to Karlov’s killing, on charges of “participating in premeditated murder.”
Karlov was shot dead with nine bullets fired by Altıntaş late on Dec. 19, 2016 while delivering a speech for a photography exhibition at an arts center in Ankara. The 22-year-old police officer was later gunned down in an exchange of fire with security personnel at the scene.