Wiretapping 'embarrassing' says Turkey's deputy PM

Deputy PM Bulent Arinc said investigations have revealed the surveillance of tens of thousands of people.

Wiretapping 'embarrassing' says Turkey's deputy PM

World Bulletin / News Desk

Wiretapping in Turkey has gotten out of control and those responsible must be brought to account, Turkey's Deputy PM Bulent Arinc said on Saturday morning.

One of the most senior voices in the Turkish cabinet, Arinc said investigations into the country's national telecommunications authority revealed that tens of thousands of people had been wiretapped and that the recordings had been preserved.

"These are embarrassing charges for Turkey; I hope that those who conducted illegal wiretappings will be held to account," he said.

Wiretapping scandals have made headlines in Turkey since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in late 2012 that a "bug" had been found in his office.

In February this year, a series of recordings featuring Erdogan speaking to a number of high-profile figures surfaced in social media.

Erdogan called some of these recordings authentic, some others “fabricated”.

Arinc also commented on the release of former armed forces chief Ilker Basbug, who was convicted last August of plotting to topple the government as the head of 'Ergenekon' - an alleged secret network of hard-line nationalists.

"I welcome the release verdict. We have always been against lengthy and indefinite periods in pretrial detention," Arinc said.

The constitutional court ruled on Thursday that the rights of Ilker Basbug were violated, which opened the way for his release on Friday.

'Unacceptable'

Intercepting the phone calls of several people or groups can be legitimate but wiretapping thousands cannot, Turkey's Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan said Saturday.

During a visit to the southern province of Karaman to support the ruling AK Party’s local election campaign, Elvan commented on an internal investigation into the country’s wiretapping scandal being conducted by the national telecommunications authority.

"In the case of an element of crime, one or several people can be legally wiretapped; we can understand that. But, wiretapping thousands of people, it is impossible for us to accept," he said.

Elvan also noted that the wiretapping activities peaked before 2014: "There has been a serious decrease in wiretapping cases in 2014."

Wiretapping stories have dominated Turkey's media since February this year, when a series of recordings featuring Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking to a number of high-profile figures surfaced across social media networks.

Last Mod: 08 Mart 2014, 13:19
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