Turkish police raid top wiretapping and science bodies over spying claims against Gülenists
Mesut Hasan Benli ANKARA
AA PhotoA broad police operation into the so-called “parallel structure,” members of the Gülen movement that allegedly infiltrated the judiciary and security forces, was launched launched Jan. 20 as part of claims that they wiretapped and spied on figures including then-PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The court sources said 40 million records on 800 servers of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), the top wiretapping body at the same time, were inspected before the raid on the institution and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), revealing that 363 of the voice recordings belonged to top state officials and the top army brass.
Three of the wiretapped crypto-secure phones belonged to Erdoğan, with one of them probably being used by his son Bilal Erdoğan, they said.
The others include Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was the foreign minister at the time, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, cabinet spokesman Bülent Arınç, Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and members of the National Security Council (MGK).
The inspection, according to sources, also showed that Erdoğan was wiretapped during the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, police raids, which according to the president, were coup attempts by Gülenists.
Transport and Telecommunications Minister Lütfü Elvan told journalists in Ankara yesterday that the operations were probably part of three inspections.
“One of them is a probe into the deletion of some TİB data. The second key one is about the wiretapping of crypto-secure telephones. The third one is about illegal wiretapping and spying,” the minister said. “As far as we know, the operations were within the scope of these three probes.”
The former deputy president of the TİB, Osman Nihat Şen; the former president of the Information Systems Department at the TİB, İlhan Elieyioğlu; and Hasan Palaz, the former president of the Informatics and Information Security Research Center (BİLGEM), which works under Turkey’s top science watchdog, TÜBİTAK, are among 28 people that are the subject of arrest warrants in the operation, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
The headquarters of the TİB are located in the Gölbaşı district of Ankara. In late December 2014, Elvan announced a plan to move the TİB’s headquarters because its operations at the headquarters before the start of a large graft probe in December 2013 were unknown to the government.
In Ankara, 19 people have already been taken into custody as part of the Ankara-based operation, which also covers Istanbul, Sakarya, and Kocaeli’s Gebze district.
The 19 people taken into custody are all TİB staff. In total, there are arrest warrants for 22 people from the TİB and six people from TÜBİTAK, according to Anadolu Agency.
In Istanbul, there are arrest warrants for three people, with one already in custody, while the two others are still being sought, the agency said.
At the time, Elvan said some officials at the TİB had violated their authority.
“Some records and logs were deleted and CDs were broken. Some dish antennas capable of transmitting were placed there,” he said, adding that the headquarters would be moved.
The large graft probe to which Elvan referred erupted on Dec. 17, 2013, when police detained businessmen and the sons of four former ministers close to Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time.
Later Jan. 20, parliament was scheduled to vote on whether to send the four to the Supreme Council, after a corruption inquiry panel had previously concluded that there was no reason to do so because “there is no evidence for sufficient doubt.”
A specialist team started working on the TİB recordings in March last year.
The data showed, according to sources, that Erdoğan was wiretapped between Dec. 17 and 20, 2013, and once more six days later, at the height of the graft probe.
In total Erdoğan was wiretapped 55 times, while current PM Davutoğlu was eavesdropped on 26 times, and Fidan 28 times.