June 23, 2014

Investigation or political plot?

Emre Uslu

Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have been arguing that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was wiretapped.

Back in 2013, Erdoğan, speaking on a TV program, revealed that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had found two devices in his offices to tape his conversations. The details of the revelation indicated that MİT had found two devices back in December 2011. However, Erdoğan and his associates kept it secret and did not launch any formal criminal investigation until Erdoğan shared it with the public.

When Erdoğan confronted the Gülen movement, he used the issue as political “evidence” against the Gülen movement and accused it of involvement in espionage on behalf of foreign powers.

Related to Erdoğan's accusations, 12 police officers, most of them Erdoğan's former bodyguards, were detained a few days ago, but the court did not arrest them.

The arrest proceedings revealed further details about the investigation of Erdoğan's wiretapping accusations. The most critical document about the investigation is a 241-page report written by two investigators appointed by the Prime Minister two years after the discovery of the two wiretapping devices.

Investigators Mehmet Emin Baysa and Erol Acer collected all the evidences provided by MİT and National Police Department (EGM) units. Based on “evidence” provided by MİT, the investigators pointed to Erdoğan's former security team as the alleged criminals.

Various media outlets published some of the details of the report. However, no comprehensive review of the report has been written yet. I will try to write a review of the report here.

The report indicates that two investigators received an order from the Prime Minister's Office on Dec. 25, 2012, to launch an investigation concerning the alleged devices found in two separate offices of the Prime Ministry.

This was the date that corresponds with the date that Erdoğan shared the information on TV. It clearly shows that the investigation was launched as a political incentive and to be used in a political campaign rather than finding the truth per se.

If it was about finding the truth, we would at least expect the investigation to have begun before Erdoğan's revelation.

The political motivation behind the investigation is reflected in the report, too. For instance, the two investigators explain the methodology of their investigations. According to the report, before everything else, the two investigators were invited to MİT to be briefed about the incident. The two investigators also explain how they were briefed.

From the very beginning of the report the tone of the investigators shows that they incline toward MİT's directions.

The briefing reminds us of the famous Feb. 28, 1997 coup briefings of public prosecutors and judges. During the Feb. 28 coup period the military used briefings as a mechanism of influencing the judicial process.

We see a similar mechanism in the alleged wiretapping investigation, too. The two investigators were invited to MİT and briefed, after which they launched an investigation.

The two investigators share pages of evidence collected by MİT and pin down a few suspects from Erdoğan's security team. The evidence that MİT provided to the investigators can at best be described as vague and politically motivated in order to point to Erdoğan's security team.

The very first problem with the MİT evidence is that the MİT team knowingly violated the basic procedures of an investigation. For instance, when police units searched for wiretapping devices in Erdoğan's offices, a person from the office was always accompanying them. MİT, however, did not accept any other officer from Erdoğan's offices to accompany the search process, which makes one wonder if it was a genuine search or pre-determined as part of a plot against Erdoğan's security team.

Moreover, no reason is given as to why MİT needed to carry out such a search, as it was the job of Erdoğan's security team. One of the questions that could make MİT officials suspected as much as Erdoğan's security team is suspected lies in the details of how the MİT team found the first wiretapping devices in Erdoğan's office in Keçiören.

According to the report, the MİT team locked the door of one of the offices and did not take anyone from the office workers to show them how the device was actually found. A ranking officer responsible for the security of Erdoğan's office that day, for instance, told investigators the followings: “When my officer inside the office told me that the MİT team, acting against procedure, did not take anyone from the office during the search to accompany them, I went into the office and tried to be with them during the search. However, they did not allow me in. I knocked on the door and they did not open it. I waited in front of the door until they finished the search and opened the door. When they opened the door they did not tell us anything and went away quickly.”

The two investigators appointed by the Prime Minister's Office to investigate and evaluate the evidence do not, for instance, explain why MİT did not take anyone to accompany them during the search.

I will continue to review the report.

Published on Cihan, 23 June 2014, Monday