July 10, 2014

Alevi figures slam Star daily over inaccurate report on mass wiretaps

Alevi opinion leaders who were allegedly among the thousands of people whose phone conversations were wiretapped by the so-called “parallel state” as was claimed by Star daily have criticized the daily for its manipulative coverage.

Star suggested that as many as 7,000 people, including senior government officials -- including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- intellectuals, businesspeople and journalists, have been wiretapped by the so-called parallel state since 2011 after two prosecutors obtained court orders to investigate a little-known terrorist group called Tawhid-Salam, also known as the Jerusalem Army.

The “parallel state” or “parallel structure” is a phrase often used by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, its supporters and pro-government media to refer to the faith-based Hizmet movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, ever since the government declared war on Hizmet last year.

Star continues to report on the alleged mass wiretaps although İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salioğlu said last month 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. He said that due to the size and the nature of the investigation, the number of wiretapped people had not been counted properly.

Murtaza Demir, former head of the Pir Sultan Abdal Foundation, an Alevi organization, said he finds the allegations about the so-called parallel structure's wiretapping of the phones of thousands of people “ridiculous.”

“We [Alevis] are being wiretapped or followed, not by any hidden structure within the state, but by the state itself. This is actually a problem concerning the state's failure to understand democracy and internalize it,” he said.

A former minister, Ziya Halis, said that those claiming that phones of thousands of people were wiretapped need to come up with evidence to substantiate their claims.

“If our phones had really been wiretapped illegally, and if this happened as part of a terrorism probe, necessary legal steps will be taken to this effect,” Halis said.

Lütfi Kaleli, a researcher and writer, directed his criticisms at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that he levels accusations at people who are his political opponents, so he does not take the claims about mass wiretaps seriously.

“Just because the corruption and bribery the government was involved in have been revealed, members of the government immediately conjure up accusations against the people they worked with earlier,” he said.

Kaleli also called on Erdoğan to resign due to the corruption allegations against him.

Prime Minister Erdoğan's AK Party has been at odds with Hizmet, especially since Dec. 17, 2013, when a major government graft operation implicating senior government members became public. The prime minister claims the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement with the motive of overthrowing his AK Party government. Erdoğan has not provided any evidence to prove this claim, and the movement denies the accusation.

Published on Cihan, 10 July 2014, Thursday