Turkish opposition implies PM might be in the know about wiretappings

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has implied that recent remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan about some top-level state officials being wiretapped might be a kind of blackmail against those officials.

“What does saying, ‘The Constitutional Court [AYM] is being wiretapped’ mean? Should we infer [from Erdogan’s remark] that there are things they [members of the Constitutional Court] need to be careful about?” Faruk Logoglu, deputy chairman of the CHP said at a press conference on Monday.

Implying that making claims about wiretapping means being informed about it, the CHP deputy chairman said, “So should we infer that he [Erdogan] saw [listened to] those recordings ?”

On a number of occasions in the recent past, Prime Minister Erdogan maintained that the telephones of President Abdullah Gul, Chief of General Staff Necdet ozel, members of the AYM and Cemil Cicek, speaker of Parliament, were wiretapped.

“What he [the prime minister] implied is there are serious questions that need to be answered. There is a widespread view in the public that phone wiretappings are being conducted upon his instructions,” Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a deputy chairman of the CHP, told Today’s Zaman.

In a written parliamentary question Tanrıkulu submitted on Monday, the CHP deputy chairman maintained that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has never fought against the illegal wiretappings.

President of Turkey’s Constitutional Court Hasim Kılıc denounced, in an implicit way, the government last week, in a defiant challenge of the prime minister, who had condemned recent court rulings as being “excessive” political criticism of his tribunal.

Tanrıkulu, who noted that Prime Minister Erdogan, while referring to the wiretapping of the speaker of Parliament, at a recent AK Party rally in Kayseri, said, “Some people would understand what I mean,” told Today’s Zaman: “A clear conclusion can be drawn from this: Mr. Erdogan wants to apply pressure through claims of wiretappings and of videos over politicians, the judiciary, [leading] actors of the state.”

Noting that he has never gotten a satisfactory answer to parliamentary questions he had submitted in past years about illegal wiretappings, Tanrıkulu said in his question: “The AKP [another version used by opposition of saying AK Party] used wiretappings obtained through illegal means [as a weapon] in election campaigns; Prime Minister Erdogan did not hesitate in using this trump cards against his political competitors,” Tanrıkulu said.

“The AKP, which tries to build an empire of fear in Turkey by means of legal and illegal wiretappings, has become slave to the monster it created itself,” he added.

Noting that the government failed to notice the CHP’s warnings in past years about illegal wiretappings, he said: “The AKP has used this method [of wiretapping] to the fullest. But, as we already said, no government can remain in power based on an empire of fear.”

Last week, Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary inquiry to the Parliament Speaker’s Office asking Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan to explain whether Erdogan’s claim about the wiretapping of the Constitutional Court is true. Tanrıkulu asked Elvan to share any relevant evidence with the nation if the phones of the top court are indeed being wiretapped and why an investigation has not been launched into the claims.

“By announcing the existence of the wiretappings, he [the prime minister] gives the impression that he is informed about their content,” said Tanrıkulu, noting at the same time that if what the prime minister says is true, that is, some public officials were illegally wiretapped, then the prime minister should not normally be informed about that.

In the written question submitted to Parliament, Tanrıkulu said: “Is it true that the Constitutional Court was wiretapped? If that is true, then how come Recep Tayyip Erdogan is sure that the Constitutional Court was wiretapped? Does he have any evidence about the aforementioned wiretappings? If yes, when will he share that evidence with the public?”

In another parliamentary question submitted on Monday, Bulent Kusoglu, a CHP deputy, said: “The claim by the prime minister that voice recordings that lend themselves to blackmailing exist for top state officials is an obvious indication of weakness and inadequacy in the ruling and administration of the state.”