Turkish PM Erdoğan labels illegal wiretapping targeting him as ‘espionage’

Turkish PM Erdoğan labels illegal wiretapping targeting him as ‘espionage’

Turkish PM Erdoğan labels illegal wiretapping targeting him as ‘espionage’

Representatives from some newspapers copy Prime Minister Erdoğan's answers during a return flight from Berlin. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described the illegal wiretapping of his home and office as “espionage” while defending the mass “reassignments” within the police and the judiciary in the wake of a December 2013 graft probe.

Speaking to journalists upon his return from a visit to Berlin late Feb. 4, Erdoğan responded to a question about whether charges could be brought against those who conducted the graft probe on the grounds that the evidence was collected through illegal wiretapping.

“For instance, the illegal wiretapping of my house is espionage. The necessary steps regarding this have been made. A very confidential file was sent to the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office. But even that has been disclosed to the press,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists who accompanied him to Germany, accusing prosecutors of the leak.

Erdoğan made public on Dec. 21, 2012, that wiretapping devices had been found in his Prime Ministry office and home, causing much uproar.

According to news reports, an investigation launched into the case in February 2013 was transferred to a prosecutor’s office dealing with anti-terror cases on the grounds that it involved an espionage crime. Erdoğan recently said harsher measures would be brought against wiretapping, while revealing that his entire family, President Abdullah Gül and Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek had been the subject of eavesdropping. 

Erdoğan also defended massive “reassignments” within the police department and the judiciary that came as a response to the damaging graft probes launched in mid-December. “There are more than 250,000 police officers. Those who do wrong will of course be relocated. In any case, most of the relocations have been made within the same province. The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors has taken action after wrongdoings in the judiciary,” Erdoğan said. 

The purges conducted by the government were widely criticized and a judicial bill, currently frozen, sparked concerns on the grounds that it would increase the executive’s power over the judiciary.