Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2008
In Today's Papers
Baykal: There's a Wiretapping Network Within the State
All news outlets report the main opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal
said Wednesday security officials were tapping the office of the
party Secretary General Onder Sav. Baykal said police bugged Sav's
office and gave excerpts of his talk with a former governor to the
Islamist daily Vakit. On May 23, Vakit published the conversation
almost verbatim. AKP deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat denied
Baykal's claims. "We will carry the allegations to the court, and
the CHP will be pronounced as a slanderer if it fails to prove the
claims," Firat said. Interior Minister Besir Atalay said he asked
for an investigation into the allegations. The CHP is to submit a
censure motion to parliament against the government in connection
with the scandal. Papers report opposition far right MHP leader
Devlet Bahceli has warned party officials to be careful as they,
too, might have been bugged.
Liberal Radikal says Baykal believes the ruling AKP government is
behind the wiretapping scandal. "There is a wiretapping network
within the state," Baykal said, adding the state uses advanced
technological equipment for systematic bugging. Baykal blamed the
police, saying "All in Turkey are aware of the 'F-type groups'
within the police," which is a direct reference to government
appointees in the Security Directorate of police officers who are
reputed to support Islamic sect leader Fethullah Gulen.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and mainstream Milliyet write
"Turkey's main opposition party has become a victim of wiretapping
that has also targeted representatives of the judiciary, military
officials, rectors and journalists." Cumhuriyet says, "wiretappings
increased after the AKP came to power." Wiretapping allegations
were first raised when Cumhuriyet's chief editor Ilhan Selcuk was
taken into custody in connection with the "Ergenekon" gang probe.
Selcuk was asked a number of questions about his private life.
Recently, Constitutional Court vice-president Osman Paksut voiced
suspicions that he was being followed and wiretapped.
Editorial Opinion on 'Turkey's Watergate': Who Bugged the
"Is There A Special Unit?"
Murat Yetkin implies a link with the Fethullah Gulen sect in
liberal-intellectual Radikal (5/29): "The bugging of the main
opposition party CHP's Secretary General created a scandal in
Ankara. Not only was the CHP Secretary General being monitored, but
a complete transcript of the conversation he had with a former
governor was published in the Islamist daily Vakit. CHP Leader
Deniz Baykal dubbed the scandal 'Turkish Watergate' and claimed
surveillance units within the security forces are being directed
against government opponents. Along with previous events of this
nature, there are some serious questions waiting to be answered.
Has the ruling AKP established a special unit within the police
force that monitors political dissidents? Has this unit been
provided with high-tech devices? And does this unit have a separate
organizational scheme that is related to a certain sect? These and
more questions can only be answered by top government figures.
Let's hope that the investigation into the surveillance against the
opposition CHP will end up bringing some convincing answers to those
questions. Healthy answers will not only serve democracy well, but
will be good for the fate of the AKP government."
"The Bugging Scandal"
Taha Akyol writes in mainstream Milliyet (5/29): "Bugging is a very
serious thing and main opposition CHP leader Baykal's reaction is
fully justifiable. In this country, being bugged, unfortunately, is
a common concern. We keep hearing similar fears from top level
Constitutional Court members to cabinet ministers. First of all,
living with such fears and concerns seriously harms stability. It
is the utmost duty of the government and public institutions to
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eliminate worries of this nature. Yesterday, the Interior Minister
asked the Ankara Governor to take action in this matter. This is
procedurally correct, but politically incorrect. The Interior
Minister should have immediately opened internal investigations
within intelligence units and relevant police offices. The AKP,
which claims to be the defender of liberal rights, should have been
more responsive than this."
Babacan: Muslims Not Free to Practice Their Religion in Turkey
All papers report Foreign Minister Ali Babacan addressed Wednesday
the members of Foreign Relations Committee of the European
Parliament. On a question regarding religious freedoms in Turkey,
Babacan said not only non-Muslim minorities but the "Muslim majority
in Turkey experienced religious freedom problems as well."
In "Babacan Poured Out His Sorrows to EU Countries,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes "Babacan complained about
Turkey," which will "trigger controversy." Islamist-oriented Zaman
claims Babacan's actual words were, "The majority of Muslims have
problems exercising their religious freedoms," and calls the Foreign
Minister's words, "A new opening in the topic of religious freedom."
Mainstream Vatan notes Babacan insisted to the committee that
because of Turkey's Muslim majority, "Turkey's accession to the EU
will strengthen the influence and depth of the EU."
Secretary Chertoff Emphasizes Coordination Against Terror
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Taraf, Zaman and others report
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff met with
Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul,
Interior Minister Besir Atalay, and with the military General Staff
(TGS) during his one-day visit to Ankara on Wednesday.
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes on its front page, "The U.S. Invites
Turkey To Join Intelligence Sharing Network," noting, "Turkey was
asked to join the U.S. and European countries like England and Italy
who have implemented security screening measures at their borders
that link up with FBI records." Leftist Taraf carries the headline,
"Come, Let's Talk about This Al-Qaeda Threat," and reports Chertoff
told reporters, "While Turkey may not have specific threats from
al-Qaeda, we are all in the same boat in the war on terror and we
want to continue our cooperation in the war against terror."
Amnesty International Report
Mainstream Sabah, liberal Radikal, leftist Taraf, Islamist Yeni
Safak, and mainstream Hurriyet report that in its 2007 report,
Amnesty International suggests that the increasing political
uncertainty and increased clashes between the PKK and Turkish
military led to an increase of violations against human rights and
violence in Turkey. Hurriyet notes that the report covered
increased violence, torture, ill-treatment and limitations on the
freedom of speech in Turkey, but did not mention the turban issue.
Second Round of Israel-Syria Talks to be Held on June 5
Sabah reports that the second round of indirect talks between Israel
and Syria will be held in Istanbul on June 5. Prime Ministry Chief
Advisor Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary
Feridun Sinirlioglu will mediate the meeting. During the second
round of talks, the parties will decide on the format of the talks,
the frequency of them and the type of commissions to be formed.
Telecom Board Board Blocks 433 Websites in 6 Months
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Turkey's "Telecommunications
Board" has blocked access to 433 websites over the past six months.
Board Director Tayfun Acarer said blocking access to websites such
as YouTube was done in accordance with court orders blocking
websites according to the "catalogue crimes" defined in Law No:
A New Administration and A New Foreign Policy
Liberal Radikal carries an op-ed by retired Ambassador Ozdem Saberk,
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who writes, "Now is the time to establish fundamentally new
relations with a new America." Saberk notes, "Now is the time when
the presidential campaigns are formulating their plans for foreign
policy during their administrations. Turkey needs to reach out and
open the lines of communication with all sides so Turkish-American
relations are not limited to coordination against the PKK and the
debate over Armenia."
- Mustafa Birden, a high court justice who was wounded in the 2006
attack on the Council of State in 2006, has been elected the head of
the Council of State.
- Chief of the Greek military General Staff General Dimitrios
Grapsas visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul on
- The pro-Kurdish DTP MP Hasip Kaplan defended Diyarbakir Mayor
Osman Baydemir for not joining PM Erdogan in Diyarbakir. "Erdogan
refuses to shake hands with the DTP members; he cannot expect our
mayors to accompany him," Kaplan said.
- President Bush's former spokesman Scott McClellan claims in a new
tell-all book that Bush relied on propaganda to sell the Iraq war.
- Turkish Cyprus Foreign Minister Turgay Avci said the joint
military exercises planned by France and South Cyprus was "not a
- In a new video, al-Qaeda calls on jihadists to use biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons in attacks against the West.