Wiretapping scandal grows in Turkey

Two people dismissed and five suspended from duty in wiretapping scandal exposed within last two days

Two people dismissed and five suspended from duty in wiretapping scandal exposed within last two days

ANKARA - Two people have been dismissed and five people have been suspended from duty in relation to an alleged wiretapping scandal which included Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son as well as over two thousand people, the Minister of Science, Industry and Technology, Fikri Isik announced Wednesday.

Following a panel entitled "New Economy: R&D and Innovation", Isik answered correspondents' questions regarding the wiretappings scandal that has arisen in the last two days. Isik said that two people, former Tubitak's Information Technology (IT) department Head, Dr. Hasan Palaz and former Marmara Resarch Center Head, Dr. Murat Aydin were dismissed and five people responsible for the encrypted telephones in Tubitak which are deemed to be highly secure because of their encryption technology, were suspended from duty during the scandal's investigation so far.

Isik explained that right after the dismissal of former IT head, he instructed the current IT head of Tubitak, Prof. Arif Ergin to inspect the encrypted phones used by Erdogan and high level officials for their security level and to review their hardware and software.

Isik said there has been no technical analysis request for the alleged voice recording between PM Erdogan and his son who was allegedly wiretapped from his encrypted phone and then edited and recorded. However, Isik says that should the Prime Ministry request an analysis to be complete, Tubitak will be happy to undertake it.

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tubitak) is the leading agency for management, funding and conduct of research in Turkey. It was established in 1963 with a mission to advance science and technology, conduct research and support Turkish researchers. The Council is an autonomous institution and is governed by a Scientific Board whose members are selected from prominent scholars from universities, industry and research institutions.

Tubitak acts as an advisory agency to the Turkish Government on science and research issues, and is the secretariat of the Supreme Council for Science and Technology (SCST), the highest S&T policy making body in Turkey.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that there is no support in the 'new Turkey' for parties and groups that do not respect democracy.

Speaking at the openning ceremony of the 1071 Malazgirt Boulevard in Ankara, Erdogan slammed the 'parallel state' - an alleged state within the state, allegedly linked to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Referring to the alleged wiretapping of thousands of peoples' phone calls, including high-profile figures, Erdogan said that Gulen-linked media has denied that the 7,000 people had been wiretapped by the two prosecutors,"but Istanbul chief prosecutor stated today that they have wiretapped more than three thousands people," Erdogan said.

Erdogan also touched on the tapes allegedly featuring his voice, saying that they were fabricated and illegally distributed.

"The parallel state is expected to produce this kind of fake recordings using national and international technology. We will unveil how these tapes had been fabricated and the whole country, including the opposition parties will see that they are in fact fabricated," said Erdogan.

Erdogan called the December 17 operation a 'conspiracy' to take away 'the will' of the people, speaking Tuesday at his Justice and Development (AK) Party group meeting at Parliament.

Erdogan said that tapes published on Monday allegedly featuring his voice were fabricated and illegally distributed, and he pledged criminal action against those responsible.

The Turkish government accuses a "parallel state" nestled in the judiciary and police of trying to target the government ahead of March 30 local elections.

"This attack (by the parallel state) is not against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or the Chairman of the AK Party, but it is an attack against Turkey and its Prime Minister," he said.

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