Turkey’s intelligence chief and lawmaker quarrel over secret video tape

Turkey’s intelligence chief and lawmaker quarrel over secret video tape

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s intelligence chief and lawmaker quarrel over secret video tape

MİT chief Fidan says the intelligence agency respects freedoms. AA photo

Spy chief Hakan Fidan and independent Istanbul deputy İhsan Barutçu quarreled yesterday during a visit to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters by a parliamentary commission probing illegal wiretapping incidents, with the latter blaming the agency for not answering questions about a 2011 tape showing him engaging in an affair. 

“I am mistreated. My family life has been revealed,” Barutçu told National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Fidan, after the latter dropped in to say hello to the visiting panel, according to sources speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News.

“You are always playing with us in the name of secrecy. Who shall we hold to account for this? What is this if it is not a national problem?” he asked Fidan. “Who did this to us?” 

The video of Barutçu was made public on the eve of the 2011 general elections, leading to his expelsion from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), but he ran as an independent candidate thanks to a Supreme Election Board (YSK) decision and won. 

Barutçu is not a member of the commission but follows the commission’s work with special permission because he is a victim of illegal wiretapping. 

Fidan, however, said he only dropped by to pass on greetings and had no extra time to answer questions. 

“As a person coming from a civil life, I can say the MİT respects individual rights and freedoms in its activities,” he said, also asking for parliamentary support for a change in the MİT code in a bid to improve standards of democracy. 

Raising his voice and slamming his fist on the table, Barutçu asked, “Why are we here if we aren’t going to be able to receive answers?” 

But Fidan again said he was only paying a civil visit and had to leave, adding that well-trained MİT members there would provide further information. Zeyid Aslan, the head of the commission, also criticized Barutçu for his attitude. 

A MİT document said in response to the commission that it was impossible for the organization to listen to 67 million telephone subscribers in the country, the source said.

The Telecommunications Department (TİB) also briefed deputies, showing wiretapping rooms. TİB officials reportedly told the deputies that they were also carrying out preventive wiretapping. 

“As far as I understand from the TİB brief, everybody in Turkey is wiretapped,” a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy said in response.