Cablegate: Turkey: Response to Request for Information On
DE RUEHAK #2848/01 3321554
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281554Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4466
UNCLAS ANKARA 002848
DEPT FOR S/CT KEN MCKUNE, NCTC AND DHS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KVPR PTER PREL PGOV PINR CVIS ASEC KHLS TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON
INFORMATION COLLECTION, SCREENING AND SHARING
REF: STATE 133921
1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
handle accordingly. Post responses are keyed to reftel
2. (U) A. Watchlisting (see para 10, below)
3. (U) B. Traveler Information Collection.
-- Who collects traveler information? Turkish National
Police (TNP) Foreigners Police maintains a machine-readable
computer system in order to collect data on entry and exits
of travelers with machine-readable passports (MRP) and
maintains a database on entry and exit of travelers with
non-MRPs, which includes Turkish citizens.
4. (U) C. Border Control and Screening.
-- Does the host government employ software to screen
travelers of security interest? The Turkish National Police
has a computerized database that is used to screen travelers,
but we do not know how TNP uses this system or what sources
they use to feed intelligence into this system.
-- Are all travelers tracked electronically, or only
non-host-country nationals? What is the frequency of
travelers being "waived through" because they hold up what
appears to be an appropriate document, but whose information
is not actually recorded electronically? What is the
estimated percentage of non-recorded crossings, entries and
exits? All travelers, both inbound and outbound, regardless
or national origin, to include Turkish citizens, are tracked
electronically at all points of entry. We believe "waived
through" seldom occurs at Turkish border Points of Entry.
The TNP checks all individuals' identification information
for validity, including entry visas, and compares traveler
information against TNP's database. An estimate of
non-reported border crossings is unknown at this time, but
the Turkish Security Directorate has informed the UNHCR and
the IOM that approximately 100,000 persons per year
enter/exit Turkey illegally by land and sea.
-- Do host government border control officials have the
authority to use other criminal data when making decisions on
who can enter the country? If so, please describe this
authority (legislation, mandates, etc). Unknown at this
time. The EU is working with Turkey on a "Twinning Project"
to train and equip border police, which includes enhancing
infrastructure and automated equipment and is working closely
with them to upgrade border controls. The Twinning Project's
primary aim is to form a constituting basis for the financial
contribution of the EU for the necessary legal and
institutional reforms, training activities, infrastructure
and equipment for integrated border management.
-- What are the host government's policies on questioning,
detaining and denying entry to individuals presenting
themselves at a point of entry into the country? Which
agency would question, detain, or deny entry? The Border
Police officers make the decision to accept or deny entry to
any individual based on the validity of their entry documents
and information contained in the Turkish database. The TNP,
Ministry of the Interior and the Department of Foreigners,
Border, and Asylum work together on acceptance or denial of
entry, depending on the nature of each case.
-- How well does information sharing function within the host
government, e.g., if there is a determination that someone
with a valid host-government visa is later identified with
terrorism, how is this communicated and resolved internally?
Unknown at this time.
5. (U) D. Biometric Collection. (see para 11, below)
6. (U) E. Passports.
-- If the host government issues a machine-readable passport
containing biometric information, does the host government
share the public key required to read the biometric
information with any other governments? If so, which
governments? Turkey does not issue machine-readable
passports. The TNP, however, does use a computer system that
can collect data from machine-readable passports. For the
past three years, the GOT has announced plans to issue
machine-readable passports, but they have not begun to issue
these passports. Most recently, on 15 November 2007, the
Turkish MOI announced it will issue in 2008 E-passports that
operate with an electronic chip and that have pages with
figures and pictures that can be seen only under UV light, a
measure to reduce use of fraudulent passports.
-- Does the host government issue replacement passports for
full or limited validity (e.g. the time remaining on the
original passports, fixed validity for a replacement, etc.)?
The GOT only issues normal passports. Turkish citizens
purchase the period of time they want to have a passport, up
to five years. This will be increased to ten years for full
validity when the GOT issues the new machine-readable
passports. GOT does not issue limited-validity passports,
but a Turkish citizen may opt to request a one-year passport,
which is extendable for additional years, up to five years,
upon request and payment.
-- Does the host government have special
regulations/procedures for dealing with "habitual" losers of
passports or bearers who have reported their passports stolen
multiple times? We do not know if Turkey has special
procedures for dealing with habitual losers of passports.
-- Are replacement passports of the same or different
appearance and page length as regular passports (do they have
something along the lines of our emergency partial duration
passports)? There are no emergency partial duration
-- Do emergency replacement passports contain the same or
fewer biometric fields as regular-issue passports? No, the
same amount of fields as the normal blue passport book
because the GOT does not issue emergency replacement
-- Where applicable, has Post noticed any increase in the
number of replacement or "clean" (i.e. no evidence of prior
travel) passports used to apply for U.S. visas? No. The GOT
issues red passports to diplomats; official green passports
to certain GOT employees and other family members with
certain restrictions. Since the government pays for these
passports, they are often lightly used. In the case of
regular blue Turkish passports, however, it is up to the
individual how often he wants to replace it, up to the
maximum validity. Since the fees are very high for Turkish
blue passports, with a fee based on a yearly rate, passports
are extended only when the individual intends to travel. In
the past three years, post has perceived no change in the
number of "clean" passports. Also, many visa applicants
bring their cancelled passports with them to the visa
interview to show the record of previous travel.
-- Are replacement passports assigned a characteristic
number series or otherwise identified? No.
7. (U) F. Fraud Detection.
-- How robust is fraud detection and how actively are
instances of fraud involving documents followed up? Post
believes that Turkey has robust fraud detection measures in
place, and the U.S. Consular Section in Embassy Ankara has
coordinated numerous anti-fraud training exchanges with the
GOT. The TNP maintains a Document Forensic Unit which uses
modern technology to inspect documents. The GOT has a
history of detaining not just Turkish nationals that it
believes are traveling on fraudulent documents, but has
detained other nationals, including U.S. citizens, believed
to be traveling on fraudulent documents. As recently as
April 2007, the Consular Section coordinated an exchange and
training visit of DHS officials to meet with their
counterparts in the TNP. In addition, in 2006, the U.S.
Consular staff - American and locally engaged staff - visited
the headquarters of the TNP Document Forensic Unit to
exchange views on trends in fraud detection.
-- How are potentially fraudulently issued documents taken
out of circulation, or made harder to use? Unknown.
8. (U) G. Privacy and Data Security.
-- What are the country's policies on records related to the
questioning, detention or removal of individuals encountered
at points of entry into the country? How are those records
stored, and for how long? Records of people questioned and
detained upon arrival in Turkey are filed in hardcopy for a
minimum of five years. Terrorist suspects' files are
maintained for longer (NFI).
-- What are the country's restrictions on the collection or
use of sensitive data? There is no comprehensive privacy and
data security regime in Turkey. The Turkish-US legal
assistance treaty would govern US access to collected
information. Wiretaps require a warrant from the courts;
however, in addition, wiretaps are frequently done by
circumventing the courts. There are legal prohibitions
against profiting from the exploitation of personal data and
against revealing confidential information. The relatively
new Turkish Republic Identity (T.C. Kimlik) database
maintains a record on every citizen, including a national
identity/tax number; it is publicly accessible via the
internet (see below). Civil servants are required to submit
a confidential Financial Disclosure form every five years to
their agency's personnel department. The country's top 100
taxpayers are publicized in the media each year, but it is
unlikely that such information is accessible on anyone.
Medical records are confidential.
-- What are the requirements to provide notice to the public
on the implementation of new databases of records? We are
unaware of formal public notification requirements; however,
the public is well-informed about some databases relevant and
in use by the public. It is unlikely that government
agencies would disclose information about databases to which
the public does not have access.
-- Are there any laws relating to security features for
government computer systems that hold personally identifying
information? We are unaware of laws related to computer
security features. Every government agency has an IT
department responsible for safeguarding and updating
protection tools, with varying levels of success.
-- What are the rules on an individual's ability to access
data that homeland security agencies hold about them? Every
individual may petition any agency to release information
under the Law on Access to and Evaluation of Information
(2003). Should the agency refuse to disclose the
information, the individual may appeal to an oversight board
of 11 (Committee on Access to and Evaluation of Information).
Court cases are in principle open to citizens, and
individuals may obtain information on the records, but the
lack of centralization and the suspicion on the part of court
recordkeepers make access cumbersome.
-- Are there different rules for raw data (name, date of
birth, etc.) versus case files (for example, records about
enforcement actions)? The rules are agency- or
database-dependent. Raw data on personal information is
confirmable on the publicly available website
tckimlik.nvi.gov.tr; access to information requires name,
date of birth, father's name, mother's name, province and
county. Records on enforcement actions are obtainable by the
citizen in question who may present his identity card and
obtain his own legal record (these are routinely included in
job applications). The Registry of Deeds is technically
available to the public, but there are some obstacles, such
as the fact that access can depend on developing personal
relationships with the people working there.
-- Does a non-citizen/resident have the right to sue the
government to obtain these types of data? A non-citizen
would have the same right to petition (and appeal) for
information under the Law on Access to and Evaluation on
Information. Non-citizens may use the courts in the host
country, but should be aware of bias of the court system in
favor of the state.
9. (U) H. Immigration Data Bases.
-- What computerized immigration databases are used to track
entries and exits? The TNP Passport Control Branch keeps a
record of all entries and exits of Turkish citizens and
visitors through all ports of entry, including land, sea and
-- Is the immigration database available at all ports of
entry (POEs)? Collection is done at all ports of entry,
including seaports, land border crossings and airports.
-- If immigration databases are available at some POEs, but
not all, how does the host government decide which POEs will
receive the tool? All POEs collect data. Data on visitors
is also collected by hotel staff when visitors check into
hotels in Turkey.
-- What problems, if any, limit the effectiveness of the
systems? For example, limited training, power brownouts,
budgetary restraints, corruption, etc.? Unknown, but all of
the problems listed above probably impact the collection
system. The entry/exit data record is held for ten years
only. When Turkish visa applicants are asked by a Consular
officer to provide a record of exits and re-entries to
Turkey, the TNP Passport Control Officer provides that record
to the applicant in one day.
-- How often are national immigration databases updated?
Records are maintained for 10 years. Please note that each
refugee or asylum seeker is registered by the Foreigners and
Border Police. They keep an open record on refugees and
asylum seekers until such time as they depart Turkey.
10. (U) I. Watchlist and Information Sharing.
-- Is there a name-based watchlist system used to screen
travelers at POEs? Both the TNP and Turkish customs have
name-based lists used to screen travelers.
-- What domestic sources of information populate the
name-based watchlist, i.e. names of deported persons,
terrorist lookouts, criminal wants/warrants? Not known at
-- What international watchlists do the host government use
for screening individuals, e.g. Interpol or TSA No Fly lists,
UN, etc.? The only international watchlist currently known
to be used by the host government is the TSA No Fly list.
Private security companies at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport also
have access to this list. The FBI recently offered the TNP
an MOU which would allow for the sharing of watchlisting
databases and give the TNP access to the Terrorist Screening
Center's (TSC) Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).
-- What bilateral/multilateral watchlist agreements exist
between host government and its neighbors? No known
bilateral/multilateral watchlist agreements exist between
Turkey and its neighbors, although Legatt has been advised by
TNP contacts that Turkey is attempting to coordinate such
regional cooperation which would include sharing of
11. (SBU) J. Biometrics. The GOT does not currently collect
biometrics information from travellers. The TNP maintains a
biometric database, which it is trying to expand. In April,
2007, the FBI proposed a biometrics sharing agreement with
the TNP that would allow direct access to the FBI database
for known or suspected terrorists. The FBI is waiting for a
12. (SBU) K. Identifying Appropriate Partners. Turkey would
be an appropriate and valuable partner in data sharing; FBI
is already pursuing data sharing arrangements through the
Terrorist Screening Center. As a NATO ally with a
long-standing indigenous terrorist problem, Turkey is already
experienced both in dealing cooperatively with us and in
combating terrorism. As an international terrorist transit
country and the site of major al-Qaeda attacks in 2003,
Turkey is also a rich source of information on the fight
against terror. At the same time, differences of definition
and priorities may complicate a data sharing relationship.
Internal sharing may also be a problem.
-- Are there political realities which would preclude a
country from entering into a formal data-sharing agreement
with the U.S? No.
-- Is the host country's legal system sufficiently developed
to adequately provide safeguards for the protection and
nondisclosure of information? Yes.
-- How much information sharing does the host country do
internally? Is there a single consolidated database, for
example? If not, do different ministries share information
amongst themselves? Information sharing across agencies can
be a problem. There is no single consolidated database.
Institutional rivalries, particularly among the police and
intelligence service, can complicate information sharing and
-- How does the country define terrorism? Are there legal
statutes that do so? Terrorism is defined in the Anti-Terror
Law #3713 (TMK, 1991). "Terrorism" is any kind of criminal
act done by one or more persons belonging to an organization
with the aim of changing the characteristics of the Republic
as specified in the Constitution, its political, legal,
social, secular and economic system, damaging the individual
unity of its State with its territory and nation, endangering
the existence of the Turkish State and Republic, weakening or
destroying or seizing the authority of the State, eliminating
fundamental rights and freedoms, or damaging the internal or
external security of the State, public order or general
health using force and violence and by means of pressure,
terror, intimidation, oppression or threat." Thus, the
definition of terrorism in Turkey is both too broad and too
narrow, per US interests. It is too broad in that it
characterizes many non-terrorist conducts as terror; it is
too narrow in that only actions that damage Turkey's own
national interest are included. Therefore, it may be
difficult to bring about action against internationally
recognized terrorist groups that do not pursue terrorist
goals within Turkey. In addition, Turkey's definition
results in a narrow terrorism finance definition, leaving out
fundraising by international terrorist groups that do not
target the state of Turkey (such as Hamas).
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