Turkey’s top businessmen, journalists, soldiers wiretapped under fake names
Toygun ATİLLA ISTANBUL
The wiretapping of targeted phone numbers was revealed in an investigation into the archives of the Istanbul Police Department Intelligence branch.Some 160 individuals, including top businesspeople such as Doğuş Holding’s Ferit Şahenk, daily Hürriyet Chairwoman Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Koç Holding’s Ali Koç, Çukurova Holding’s Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, along with former top soldiers and journalists, were wiretapped with fake names in 2008 and 2009.
The eavesdropping was conducted through the targets’ telephone serial numbers, mostly with court orders, on suspicion of “being a member of a terror and criminal organization.”
The wiretapping of targeted phone numbers was revealed in an investigation into the archives of the Istanbul Police Department Intelligence branch by a team led by the branch’s head, Edip Vural.
An inquiry, which has been ongoing for the past two-and-a-half months, revealed that the wiretapping of 160 people was justified by adding their names to a list of “members of a terror or criminal organization,” under the name “intelligence wiretapping.” While most of the court rules for wiretaps were taken with code names, some of the people’s surnames, jobs and statuses were not written down.
Turkey’s two richest individuals - Doğuş Holding Chairman Ferit Şahenk and Koç Holding Chairman Ali Koç - were included in the wiretapping list. The list also included daily Hürriyet’s Chairwoman Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, retired former Chief of General Staff Gen. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, retired former Turkish Naval Forces Commander Gen. Vural Bayazıt, journalist Uğur Dündar, daily Habertürk columnist Ruşen Çakır, the Economist’s Turkey correspondent and columnist Amberin Zaman, and former Istanbul Technical University Rector Muhammed Şahin.
Civil Service Chief Inspector Turgay Alpman and Chief Police Inspector Selim Kutkan have been appointed specifically for the investigation of the uncovered wiretaps.
Ali Fuat Yavuzer, who was the head of Istanbul’s Intelligence branch during the wiretapping period in 2008 and 2009, has been arrested on allegations of illegal wiretapping in another case.
Around 20,000 instances of wiretapping were identified retrospectively, including the Narcotics and Anti-Organized Crime branches as well as the Istanbul Police Department’s Intelligence branch.
Some of the wiretapped individuals include people who were tried in the Ergenekon “deep state” case. Soner Yalçın, who was arrested in the Oda TV case and charged with having links to the alleged terrorist organization Ergenekon in February 2011, was wiretapped for three months in 2008 but these tapes were not presented in his court file.
Former Foreign Minister İlter Türkmen, Trabzon’s former Chief of Police Reşat Altay, the former head of Turkey’s media watchdog (RTÜK) Zahid Akman, and former Lieutenant General and Interior Minister Selahattin Çetiner were also among the people wiretapped.