Turkish government pushes intel law after local polls

Turkish government pushes intel law after local polls

Nuray Babacan Hürriyet / ANKARA
Turkish government pushes intel law after local polls

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay was last month introduced to the amendments. AA photo

Parliament is set to begin deliberations today about a bill expanding the powers of Turkey’s spy agency with additional missions both inside and outside the country, formally turning it into an intelligence coordination body that will work directly under the prime minister. Known as the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Law, the proposal was withdrawn in February after President Abdullah Gül demanded major changes to the proposed text.

It has been learned that the amendments were first introduced to Gül by Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and that the government decided to move ahead with it after the president’s approval. The changes to the proposed law will be addressed during discussions at relevant commissions and at the General Assembly.

The bill was presented by two deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Alpaslan Kavaklıoğlu and İdris Naim Şahin, in February. According to the bill, the MİT will fulfill “all kinds of tasks” regarding external security, the anti-terror fight and national security, which are assigned by the Cabinet. The redrafted text will likely omit the part regarding “all kinds of tasks.”

Prosecutors will contact MİT executives when they receive any denunciations or complaints regarding MİT members and their duties and activities, or when they learn about such situations. In the event that there are issues with the MİT’s duties and activities, no legal operation will be launched and no protection measure will be imposed.

A court of serious crimes in Ankara, to be chosen by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), will be authorized to try those who are charged with personal crimes or charged with crimes regarding their duties related to their position at the MİT.

The Supreme Court of Appeals will also be responsible for trying the MİT undersecretary, who is Turkey’s top intelligence chief, if any case is opened against him or her.

The bill also brings provisions to secure the ongoing peace process and negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan.

The duty to talk and negotiate with terror organizations granted to the MİT through its secret internal regulations is expected to be put into the draft law, with an added provision that “it could also allow others to talk to terror leaders.” This would legally protect the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers who have been frequently meeting with Öcalan and the MİT throughout the peace process.

With the new bill, the MİT becomes the national center of communications intelligence and electronic intelligence, allowing it build a new electronic intelligence facility. There are also expectations that it will replace the authority of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB).