Turkey's politicians and public criticise mass wiretapping

Monday, February 24, 2014

Politicians, activists, writers amongst those who called wiretapping a

Politicians, activists, writers amongst those who called wiretapping a "human rights scandal"

ANKARA - Journalists, activists, writers and political party members called the wiretapping of thousands of peoples` phone calls, including high-profile figures, a "human rights scandal."

The alleged tapping took place as part of a legal file run by the Istanbul Caglayan Court of Justice under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Turkey`s dailies published Monday a list of 7,000 people -- including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and at least one of his ministers as well as a number of journalists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives -- whose phones had been tapped for three years, by two prosecutors of the Istanbul Court who are allegedly linked to a movement headed by U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish Star daily editor-in-chief, Yusuf Ziya Comert, called wiretapping a judicial scandal because the prosecutors linked to the "parallel state" have created a file and included everyone whom they want to record.

"Parallel state" is referred to describe a `state within state` associated with the Gulen or `Hizmet` movement which allegedly had links in the police force and the judiciary.

The wiretapping allegations first erupted after Turkey’s intelligence agency, MIT, found bugs in Prime Minister Erdogan’s office in 2012.

Monday`s allegations and the published list are part of an ongoing political struggle between the government and the Gulen movement that was sparked on December 17 following an anti-graft probe aimed at the government, which led to high-profile arrests.

A professor of law at Ankara University, Mithat Sancar, who was targeted by the wiretapping said: "This scandal is not just a routine tapping event, conversely it is a key part of a project plotted by the parallel state, the state itself or a power focus within the state, whatever you call."

Fermani Altun, chairman of Istanbul-based Alawite organization World Ahlul Bayt Foundation, said: "I think that there many other scandals but the perpetrators have been caught red-handed."

Journalist Nihal Bengisu also said that the tapping is a part of a big plot. "A terrorist organization called Salam has been fabricated and thousands of people have been tapped. If the December 17-25 operations were able to overthrow the government, these on the lists people would be arrested under the fabricated terrorist organization," said Bengisu.

Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesperson Hussein Celik claimed wiretapping has no place in law, which he says only permits tapping in terrorism, drugs and arm smuggling cases.

"Wiretapping journalists, politicians, lawmakers, businessmen from different segments of society cannot be titled under an alleged terrorist organization. Tapping 7,000 people is for some other specific political purpose," said Celik.

Turkey`s Deputy Parliament Speaker Sadik Yakut said that wiretapping is a violation of personal rights and asked for those who responsible to be tried.

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