Officers arrested in wiretapping probe released

Six police officers who were arrested last week as part of an investigation into claims of illegal wiretapping were released on Monday.

The officers, including Police Chiefs İsmail Bilgin and Ertugrul Yetkin, were released pending trial.

In a related development, one officer who was also briefly detained in the same investigation filed a criminal complaint against the prosecutor involved in the investigation, arguing that the prosecutor abused his authority.

The police chief submitted his complaint to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) through his lawyer over the weekend.

On April 8 eight police officers were detained in the southern province of Adana as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal wiretapping based on news reports in some pro-government newspapers that made claims of such activities. Six of the officers were later arrested on the grounds that they had engaged in illegal wiretapping.

In his complaint the police chief, identified in the media by the initials A.A., said the prosecutor carried out the investigation without receiving permission from the HSYK. The police officer also said the prosecutor ordered a police raid and search at the offices and houses of the detained police officers without a court order.

The police chief asked the HSYK to launch a judicial and administrative investigation into prosecutor Ali Dogan.

According to the police chief, the unlawful search at his office caused him to suffer a loss of prestige. He argued that the search was aimed at intimidating the police chief and declare him guilty in the media before the investigation was completed.

The police chief also denied claims that he was involved in illegal wiretapping. He said he carried out the wiretappings legally, upon the order of high criminal courts in Adana.

The fact that the investigation was based on news reports that appeared in the pro-government media about claims of illegal wiretapping has raised suspicions as to whether the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has kicked off a witch-hunt against the Hizmet movement, which the prime minister recently threatened to “punish with a large-scale operation.” There has been increased chatter in the Turkish capital about whether the government may soon launch a probe in order to harass its opponents, especially people and companies affiliated with the Hizmet movement.

The rumors began spreading after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who emerged victorious from the March 30 local elections, threatened the Hizmet movement by saying, “We will go into their lairs,” and accused followers of Hizmet of treason without offering any evidence to back up his claims.

In January Adana Chief Public Prosecutor Ozcan Şişman ordered police and gendarmerie forces to stop and search Syria-bound trucks on suspicion of transporting arms. The incident drew the ire of the government, which claimed at the time that the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid and had nothing to do with any kind of arms cargo.

The government soon removed the prosecutor, police chiefs and one gendarmerie commander who took part in the operation. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government argued that the local security forces did not have the authority to search trucks that belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which raised questions about the operation, such as how the prosecutor and police chiefs got the information about the Syria-bound trucks.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN