BuLENT – ‘Bug’ indictment wears out its welcome

‘Bug’ indictment wears out its welcomeThe prosecutor has finally prepared the indictment regarding the wiretapping device seized at the office of former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan. I must note this at the beginning: The prime ministerand#39s office is the most private place in the country and it is an obligation for the public authorities to ward off any attack targeting that place and bring those who are responsible for the attack to court.

If the state fails to do so, it cannot be trusted to safeguard the lives or privacy of its citizens. It will find itself in a position of needing help for its own protection.

If the bug in question had been planted by those who were supposed to protect that office, then the matter becomes all the more scandalous.This indictment, unfortunately, is far from revealing the real truth and therefore, from bringing those guilty to court.

Rather, what we have is a belated text rife with confusion and weak arguments (I must note that I find it hard to understand why Ismet Berkan, a journalist of high caliber, would be willing to publish such an indictment without questioning or analyzing it).A much-delayed fileThe andldquobugandrdquo file suffers mainly from delays.

The first thing to note is the suspicious delay with which the file was prepared. In his statement to the inspectors from the Prime Ministry Monitoring Council (BTK), Basri Aktepe, the former vice president of the National Intelligence Organizationand#39s (MIT) science, technology and technical applications department, said after they had been ordered to conduct a search to find the wiretapping device, they waited 20 days before taking action.

Noting that MIT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan had personally given the search order, Aktepe indicated: andquotI was ordered to form a search team consisting of reliable members. We waited 20 days before we conducted the search.

andquotWhy wait 20 days if you suspect the prime minister is being wiretapped? To give some people time to plant the device in the first place?The delay is not limited to this. The prosecutorand#39s office was first notified of the incident on Feb.

24, 2012. Although the prosecutorand#39s office requested evidence which could be used for a judicial investigation, the Prime Ministry sent it on Jan.

13, 2014. It is said the BTK had conducted the investigation.

Yet the case involves a full-fledged judicial crime. It is unlawful to make the BTK conduct the judicial investigation.

The BTK is not the authority to conduct an administrative investigation and is not authorized to perform a judicial investigation.Moreover, the BTK was ordered to conduct the investigation on Dec.

25, 2012, ie, exactly one year after the bugs were found on Dec. 24-25, 2011.

Assuming that such an important investigation could be deferred, the reason for the delays must be clarified. This is mainly the responsibility of the prosecutorand#39s office.

Since the investigation had not been conducted by expert specialists, standard crime scene investigation procedures had not been implemented and it is very likely that a lot of evidence was obscured in the process.Conflicting expert reportsThe prosecutorand#39s office is trying to bring the pieces together with the assumption that the bugs had been planted by the suspects in question on Nov.

24-25. In other words, it is attempting to find a link from the suspects to the evidence instead of going from the evidence to the suspects.

But it has virtually no evidence to do so. There are no fingerprints, no video recordings or sound files which are said to have been recorded.

The prosecutorand#39s office is trying to determine the date on which the bugs were planted based on expert reports. More precisely, it seeks to make the experts endorse the date in their minds.

There is only one expert report although references are made to two reports. There is the report by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TuBITAK) and also an examination by someone from the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) University of Economics and Technology.

Immediately following the search at the residence, the devices were sent to TuBITAK. TuBITAK knew nothing about where the devices were found, and performed tests on them and their holders and found that they were planted on Dec.

4-5, 2011. This is the date on which the adhesive used to fix the device had solidified.

The reports were delivered to MIT in December of 2011 and March of 2012.But these reports are of no use for the prosecutorand#39s purpose.

Two years later, another andldquoexpertandrdquo report was requested. This time, the expert is Teyfik Demir from TOBB University.

(The prosecutor wrongly gave his surname as Diker). When were the devices sent to Demir? How did he conduct his analysis? We donand#39t know.

An analysis which is performed two years after the incident can hardly produce a reliable result. The university does not have a chemistry department or laboratories to conduct an analysis.

Based on TuBITAKand#39s reports, Demir concludes that the devices were planted after Nov. 20.

The indictment quotes only one paragraph from the TuBITAK report which had been prepared immediately after the incident, but two pages from Demirand#39s report. The date on which the devices were planted is Dec.

4-5 according to the authority which conducted the chemical analysis, but sometime after Nov. 20 according to the person who reads this authorityand#39s report.

The prosecutor thus andldquoestimatesandrdquo that the date is Nov. 14-24.

Witnesses witness what?The indictment tries to shore up the conflicting technical evidence with weak witness testimonies. The witnesses describe how the searches were conducted.

The suspects acknowledges that these searches were conducted by the chief of the Prime Ministryand#39s Security Systems Office, who was assisted by the deputy director of the technical branch of the intelligence department. None of the witnesses say they saw the suspects planting the device or changing the outlet.

They donand#39t mention any suspicious activity. Even their testimonies conflict one other but this escapes the prosecutorand#39s attention.

For instance, a female telephone operator in Keiren remembers the date as Nov. 28.

She says the prime ministerand#39s aisor Mustafa Varank was among the search team Prosecutor Durak etin apparently does not have any clear idea about dates and people. Moreover, there are missing witness testimonies.

For instance, the testimony of Mehmet Kaya, who paved the way for the initiation of the investigation with his whistleblowing, was not taken. Why?Contradictions galore.

.The most serious charge is espionage for political purposes, but we cannot find the elements of the offense in the indictment.

There are no recordings and there is no information about the country for which this espionage was conducted. The only argument is that there are many foreign missions near the prime ministerand#39s official residence.

The suggestion is that these embassies are so close to the residence and can eavesdrop on the prime ministerThe indictment also claims that certain people who are supposed to act in an extremely professional manner made very simple mistakes. For instance, it is argued that the suspected MIT agent contacted the organization using his wifeand#39s cellphone.

Even adolescents who have watched several spy movies would not make such a mistake. The suspected Prime Ministry office chief visits his colleague the technical branch director at the police department and makes an entry in the visitorsand#39 logbook, which the prosecutor includes as evidence of a link between the suspects.

The trade shows they attended because they work at technical branches were listed as evidence of an organization. A meeting between a subordinate and a superordinate at the technical branch was likewise treated under the same scope.

The same people were indicated as primary perpetrators in some areas and as accomplices elsewhere. The resulting indictment is slipshod and a maze of confusions.

Let us not forget the anonymous witness codenamed Haner (Dagger). Haner, who is said to be working at a defense and security company, indicated that he sold devices similar to the seized devices to the suspects by addressing the bill to the police department.

The person he names is a police officer who is an engineer who graduated from the Middle East Technical University (ODTu) and this police officer is already commissioned to make the said purchases. There is no need to obtain the copies of those bills from the anonymous witness as the originals of those bills are in the stateand#39s archives.

But one needs to be an idiot to buy the wiretapping devices priced at $40,000-50,000 with a bill that goes directly to the stateand#39s archives and to plant those devices at the Prime Ministry.The anonymous witness said they contacted other departments and the Gendarmerie General Command to sell their devices.

As his company is the exclusive dealer for the said product, they must have sold it to other units. If making procurements with an official bill is enough to be treated as a suspect, did the prosecutor examine other units from this perspective?The indictment falls short of substantiating the alleged crimes.

It cannot establish a link between the evidence and the suspects. There are no fingerprints, no witnesses, no video recording or sound files which are said to have been recorded.

Who bought the devices and from where is not known. It must have been a real challenge for the prosecutor to make up a crime and a criminal organization out of so many missing items.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman