Opposition deputy challenges Fidan’s reappointment to MIT

ISTANBUL: A main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy filed an appeal with the Istanbul Administrative Court on Wednesday to annul the reappointment of Hakan Fidan, who resigned as head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to run for Parliament and then withdrew his candidacy.

According to the Cihan news agency, CHP Istanbul deputy Mahmut Tanal asked the court to overturn a Cabinet decision reappointing Fidan to his former post.

Fidan resigned from his position as MIT head last month to run for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming general elections in Turkey, which are to be held on June 7. However, he was reappointed to his post hours after he announced on Monday his decision to withdraw his candidacy in the elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc announced that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had reappointed Fidan as the MIT head following a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his remarks to reporters, Tanal said Fidan’s reappointment, which he says was a political decision, will harm the reputation of MIT.

“This decision politicizes the organization, abuses the trust and credibility attributed to this state institution and makes MIT seem like an intelligence branch of the AK Party [ruling Justice and Development Party],” Tanal said.

He also alleged that the Prime Ministry is under the tutelage of the presidency.

“… The prime minister accepted Fidan’s resignation but the president spoke out against his decision to run for Parliament. Now, what the president had asked has happened. This means the prime minister won’t take any action against what a president says or does,” Tanal concluded.

The reappointed intelligence head had been rumored to be next in line for the position of foreign minister or even prime minister in the new Cabinet to be formed after the elections, and was to run from within the ranks of the AK Party. However, Erdogan expressed disappointment multiple times over Fidan’s candidacy, saying he is the one who appointed Fidan to the “most important institution of the state” and if he did not allow him to resign, Fidan should have stayed.

Fidan gave no reason for his decision when he announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy on Monday night, but it is no secret that Erdogan’s disapproval lies behind it.

“Today, I withdrew my candidacy for the general elections as I deemed it necessary. On the path of service to my nation and my people, I will always try to properly fulfill the duties entrusted to me,” he said in a brief statement.

Critics argue that Fidan cannot be reappointed in the organization due to Article 14 of the law governing MIT. According to Article 14, no MIT official who served less than five years at the organization can be reappointed there until five years pass after his resignation. Fidan is known to have started to serve in MIT on April 17, 2009, however, critics say the date when Fidan was officially announced to be posted to MIT — April 17, 2010, should be taken as the reference. Given that Fidan’s resignation became effective as of Feb. 10, Fidan cannot be said to have completed his five-year term at MIT, critics conclude.

Another point that critics have underlined is the fact that Fidan registered as an AK Party member before declaring his preliminary candidacy to run for Parliament, so he now has a political identity.

On Tuesday, Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu, the former head of the Judges’ Union, filed a suit at the Council of State to have Fidan’s reappointment as MIT head overturned.

In a written statement on Tuesday, Eminagaoglu, who recently resigned from his post as a judge to become a candidate on the main opposition party ticket in the elections, maintained that Fidan cannot be reappointed as a civil servant. Since Fidan had already resigned from public service twice in the past — from the Turkish military in the early 2000s and from the university where he had taught for a time — he cannot be reappointed as a civil servant, Eminagaoglu said.