June 27, 2014

Chief prosecutor admits manipulation in massive wiretapping claims

İstanbul Chief Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu told reporters on Friday that the number of people who were wiretapped in an investigation into the Selam terrorist organization had been exaggerated and was much smaller than the high numbers that government media and his office initially claimed.

In a statement that came as a confession amid allegations of widespread illegal wiretapping, Salihoğlu said that due to the size and the nature of the investigation, the number of wiretapped people had not been counted properly. The prosecutor refrained from responding to a question about whether there is an investigation into the leaking of the content of the investigation and said that he chose to use his right to remain silent. For weeks, the government media used the manipulated numbers as a tool for to smear the Hizmet movement.

Meeting with reporters in a courthouse in İstanbul, Salihoğlu said that he is briefed about the important legal cases in the courthouse. Commenting on the news reports arguing that thousands of people had been wiretapped illegally as part of the Selam terrorist organization investigation, Salihoğlu criticized the journalists for pushing questioning too insistently before saying that “apparently those who counted, miscounted.” When reporters reminded the prosecutor of news stories that the government dailies Star and Yeni Şafak had run, which openly violated the secrecy of the investigation, Salihoğlu chose to remain silent. The government media had claimed that 7,000 people were wiretapped, while the of the Chief Prosecutor's Office in İstanbul had said the number was 2,280. However, the prosecutors of the investigation said that the number of wiretapped people was limited to 240 and that the people who contacted the suspects were also included in the list in an effort to manipulate the investigation.

When asked why the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 investigations and the subsequent corruption allegations have not yet been completed, Salihoğlu said that the Chief Prosecutor's Office is working hard not to make any mistake. “These are serious events that shook the whole of Turkey,” the chief prosecutor said, adding that he is aware of his heavy responsibility.

Regarding another controversial investigation, the alleged attack on a woman wearing headscarf, Z.D. during Gezi Park protests in the Kabataş district of İstanbul, the chief prosecutor refrained from making a comment. A reporter asked Salihoğlu whether footage of the attack exists and whether it is included in the investigation documents, Salihoğlu said that his office will comment when the investigation is over.

Reporters also asked Salihoğlu about the status of the investigation about Uğur Kurt, who died after being shot by a police officer in Okmeydanı in May. According to Salihoğlu's statement, permission to open an investigation into the police officer responsible has not been received by his office. Under normal circumstances, the İstanbul Governor's Office is supposed to issue the permission.

Responding to a question whether documents about the alleged “parallel structure” within the state have arrived at the Chief Prosecutor's Office, Salihoğlu ruled out the existence of such documents and said that there might be confusion with the Ergenekon case, since all the documents about the Ergenekon case had been moved to his office from the Silivri courthouse. He added that two truckloads of documents concerning the Ergenekon case are due to be sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Published on Today's Zaman, 27 June 2014, Friday