GeriGündem Surveillance spooks Turks as wiretaps grow
MENÜ
  • Yazdır
  • A
    Yazı Tipi
  • Yorumlar
    0
    • Yazdır
    • A
      Yazı Tipi

Surveillance spooks Turks as wiretaps grow

Surveillance spooks Turks as wiretaps grow
refid:11335022 ilişkili resim dosyası
Abone Olgoogle-news

ISTANBUL - A proliferation in wiretapping and bugging, bolstered by official investigations into people suspected of plotting against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, is generating waves of anxiety in Turkey. Retired generals and executives have found private conversations showing up in prosecutors’ indictments and the media.

Turkish actress Nurseli İdiz only makes phone calls in emergencies because when she talks, she’s concerned a stranger is listening.

"I treat phone calls like public statements," İdiz, 49, said from her Istanbul home. She was detained by police and then released without charge six months ago on suspicion of supporting anti-government activists. İdiz denied involvement. "I know they’re listening to us even now," she said.

A proliferation in wiretapping and bugging, bolstered by official investigations into people suspected of plotting against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, is generating waves of anxiety in Turkey. Retired generals and executives have found private conversations showing up in prosecutors’ indictments or the media.

In response, sales of anti-bugging devices have more than doubled this year, according to DijitalTakip Electronics, an online retailer.

About 70,000 phones in the nation of 72 million people are being tapped by court order, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin said in a TV interview on March 17. There’s also illegal recording, and that’s making the public "nervous and insecure," he said. Turkey has about 85 million phone lines.

"Everyday, stories based on these recordings appear on some Internet site, and then find their way into the rest of the press," Şahin told NTV television. "I don’t believe any court ordered these people to be bugged."

Who’s listening?

Authorities don’t know who’s behind the unlawful surveillance, said Mevlüt Aktaş, a spokesman at police headquarters in Ankara. Law enforcement officials are aware of the public’s concerns and are investigating, he said.

One reason for wider surveillance is the three-year police investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the six-year-old government, said Baskın Oran, professor of politics at Ankara University. Much of the evidence in the 4,500 pages of indictments in the case is derived from phone taps on suspects including retired generals Hurşit Tolon and Veli Küçük. Tolon and Küçük were detained in connection with the plot last year. Sabah and other newspapers on March 5 published a transcript of Tolon complaining about his detention and describing his prison routine. Tolon, Küçük, and other suspects deny planning to overthrow the government and say they’re victims of a conspiracy.

Supporters and opponents of the government are "trying to hang out each other’s dirty laundry in public," Oran said. Opposition leader Deniz Baykal accuses the government of listening in on its critics and opponents.

"We can’t even talk to our wives and friends," he told an election rally in the southern city of Burdur on March 6. "People have the right to pick up the phone and swear at the government. They’ve taken that pleasure away."

Police and pro-government media may share responsibility for illicit bugging, said Ismail Boyraz, deputy head of Turkey’s Human Rights Association.

"We don’t really know who’s listening, or on whose orders," Boyraz said. "But it’s happening to opponents of the government. And no one’s getting punished." An official at Erdoğan’s office who declined to be named, citing departmental policy, said it was illogical that the government would be responsible because it had campaigned against human rights violations and illegal phone surveillance.

Other figures whose conversations were recorded before appearing in media include Soner Gedik, chief financial officer of Doğan Media Group, or DMG, Turkey’s biggest media group. Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review is a DMG publication.

Published transcript

Sabah newspaper on Feb. 25 published a transcript of a phone conversation between Gedik and Mehmet Akif Ulusoy, head of the Finance Ministry’s tax office. The reports showed the two men discussing a tax probe that led to a penalty of 914.8 million liras ($550 million) imposed on the DMG. Gedik said a day later he planned legal action against whoever recorded or leaked the conversation. Bugging equipment is getting more sophisticated and laws to stop illegal recording can’t always keep pace, Justice Minister Şahin said. That makes it hard for authorities to act, he said.

So Turks are buying anti-bugging devices. Osman Kaçmaz, a judge at Sincan criminal court in Ankara, has one on his desk. "We hear about our verdicts from the press even before we sign them," Kaçmaz told Kanal D television in an interview. "This is the most essential device for us now, as we all know everyone is being bugged, though we don’t know by whom."

Demand for such equipment has more than doubled in the last few months, said Kerem Kaya, whose company DijitalTakip Electronics sells jamming machines over the Internet.

Fethi Şimşek, head of the Telecommunications Authority that records phone conversations on court orders, said people’s concerns are overdone.

The probe into the alleged coup has fueled "paranoia" about phone taps, he said in an e-mailed response to questions.
False
Haber Yorumlarını Göster
Haber Yorumlarını Gizle