Turkish PM defends intel chief against ‘smear campaign’

Turkish PM defends intel chief against ‘smear campaign’

Turkish PM defends intel chief against ‘smear campaign’

Intelligence chief Hakan Fidan is being subject to a smear campaign both inside and outside the country, PM Erdoğan says. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin Sönmez

National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan, who is in the spotlight over his role in shaping Turkey’s Syria policy as well as his alleged cooperation with Iran at the cost of harming Israeli interests, has received full backing from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In a speech delivered on Oct. 22, Erdoğan particularly offered thanks to the MİT, alongside the Foreign Ministry, for its efforts leading to the recent release of two Turkish Airlines pilots who were seized in Lebanon in August.

“Being a great nation means having great and ambitious goals, and no doubt as many inconveniences as there are blessings,” he said, referring to the kidnapping and release of the pilots who arrived in Istanbul over the weekend.

“We must careful analyze the 30 years of bloody terror our country has gone through not only for their social, political, or economic aspects, but their international aspects as well. We must also do this when it comes to the interruptions our democracy has experienced over the decades; look at not only its social and political aspects but also take a look at its international aspects,” Erdoğan added.

“But while we do this there are those who wish to put our institutions under suspicion. When the time comes you now see that they’re attempting to engage our MİT undersecretary. Who is engaging our MİT undersecretary? Be careful. This is very important. There are those agitating from inside and those agitating from outside. Sorry, but we will stand behind our valued bureaucrats and technocrats and won’t take their favor from others. If there is a complaint, we will evaluate it, and then we will do what is necessary,” the prime minister said.

An Oct. 17 report by the Washington Post has command the Turkish news agenda lately, after it claimed that Turkey deliberately blew the cover of an Israeli spy ring working inside Iran in early 2012 and dealt a significant blow to Israeli intelligence gathering.

The Washington Post allegation angered officials in Ankara, already on the defensive after a Wall Street Journal story printed on Oct. 9 suggested Fidan was acting “independently” on Syria operations, jeopardizing Western interests there.

MHP: Rescue of pilots no victory

Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said the recent rescue of kidnapped Turkish pilots was not a victory to be claimed by the government, as it was actually Qatar that conducted the whole rescue operation.

“The kidnapping of Turkish citizens in response to the actions of the Syrian opposition and even their being subject to a trade should surprise nobody from now on,” Bahçeli said Oct. 22, suggesting that the incident in Lebanon and the way the hostages were released had opened the door for such actions.

He was apparently lending support to the assumption that rescue of a group of Lebanese pilgrims held hostage in Syria for 17 months took place as they were swapped for two kidnapped Turkish pilots.

While regretting news reports in the international media about Fidan, Bahçeli listed a series of actions of which he disapproves and said responsibility lay on the shoulders of the MİT chief.