Turkish wiretappers had 'external support', says minister

Turkey's Science Minister Fikri Isik said “Any internal structure in Turkey, referring to a 'parallel state', could not undertake large-scale illegal wiretapping without external support.”

Turkish wiretappers had 'external support', says minister

World Bulletin / News Desk

Any 'parallel state' in Turkey could not have carried out large-scale illegal wiretapping without external support, the country’s science minister has claimed.

Minister Fikri Isik visited Anadolu Agency's (AA) Editor’s Desk on Wednesday and responded to AA questions on the Turkish wiretapping scandal, as well as latest developments in the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).

“Any internal structure in Turkey, referring to a 'parallel state', could not undertake large-scale illegal wiretapping without external support,” he said. “I believe that some certain centers of power with international connection, which are disturbed by Turkey´s development and its growth, are doing illegal listening to monitor Turkey and to pursue its activities instantly by using subcontractors in the country."

“The recent listening activities show that their subcontractors in the country have changed but the logic is the same and the most serious thing was to dare to listen to the state’s top executives, such as president and prime minister.”

Isık said there were legal listening activities all over the world but that “the problem is an illegal listening that is not only happening in Turkey but you cannot see any other country in the world where there are so many leakages from the institutions,” he said.

Isık said the penalties for illegal wiretapping had been strengthened under the AK Party government.

Under current legislation, the penalties for those who leak wiretapped recordings have increased. Penalties for officials who use their authority to wiretap illegally have also been covered by this legislation. The period of legal wiretapping has also been limited. Wiretapping which does not include any criminal case or information will have to be deleted immediately; authorities and prosecutors who fail to delete such recordings will face prison terms starting from one year.

Bugging became a popular topic of debate after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed in late 2012 that listening devices had been found in his home office.

In February this year, Turkish dailies revealed that Prime Minister Erdogan’s secure phone line had been tapped and that cryptology experts, who had designed his secure phones at Turkey’s main research funding and science management organization, Ankara-based TUBITAK, had left the line open to be monitored.

Newspaper reports also revealed that secure phones used by President Abdullah Gul, Army chief Necdet Ozel and Turkey's intelligence chief Hakan Fidan were also bugged by what state officials described as a "parallel state," 'a state within the state' within the judiciary and police, whose members allegedly have links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, leader of the 'Hizmet' ("Service") movement.

Tensions between the government and Gulen's movement were heightened after a high-profile anti-graft investigation launched on December 17, 2013. The probe saw the arrests of a number of business people and the sons of three former cabinet members. Erdogan dismissed the investigation as a "dirty plot" to undermine the stability of his government.

Five TUBITAK personnel with the division tasked with developing encryption software have been suspended from duty, said Minister Isik.

TUBITAK is the leading agency for managing, funding and conducting research in Turkey. It was established in 1963 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 science policymaking body in Turkey.

Speaking to AA, Isık described how Turkey was located in a region of the world where there are many problems surrounding the country.

He also said: “It is a source of pride that Anadolu Agency uses the best technology; it is one of the most natural rights of the people to get news.”

Stressing how breaking news in the fastest way to people is very important, he said: “It is highly admirable that Anadolu Agency is doing this task very effectively in line with the national interest, after its structure has been strengthened in recent years.”

Last Mod: 05 Mart 2014, 13:54
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