Former military chief illegally wiretapped journalist, daily claims – Today's Zaman

The daily reported on a confidential document it obtained which mentions detailed information about former Milliyet reporter Utku Cak?rozer. The document, dated April 11, 2001, includes wiretap records of four of Cak?rozer’s phone conversations between March and April 2001. The document, which was prepared for Buyukan?t, says the journalist “should be taken under control” based on the findings of an investigation into him.

Radikal called the journalist in question and asked him about the document. “I am in Istanbul now. I would like to see the document about me,” the journalist was quoted as saying by the daily. According to Radikal, Cak?rozer, currently the Ankara representative of the Cumhuriyet daily, went to Radikal’s offices and examined the document. “I served as a defense reporter for three years after 1999. My accreditation for TSK activities was revoked two times during this period without any explanation. This document may be the reason behind the cancellation of my accreditation,” he told the daily.

The General Staff has long been imposing a media accreditation ban on certain TV stations and newspapers, including Today’s Zaman, which has been strongly criticized by various circles, including the European Union, as it runs contrary to the principle of the rule of law and freedom of the press.

The journalist, however, said the emergence of the document 10 years after it was drafted might serve some purpose such as giving the message that illegal wiretapping of individuals, which he says has recently become common, was also prevalent in previous years. He added that he is opposed to illegal wiretapping of individuals, regardless of the institution that is involved in such practices.

The General Staff is not authorized to wiretap phones in Turkey. Only three institutions, the National Police Department, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the gendarmerie have the authority to legally wiretap phones in Turkey — and even then, a court order is required to wiretap a phone. When a court order is issued for the wiretapping of a phone, it also needs to be approved by the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB).

In a similar case in which the General Staff was accused of illegal wiretapping, claims emerged last year that Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Aslan Guner, who was at the helm of the General Staff’s intelligence department in 2007, wiretapped nearly 2,000 civilians with a wiretapping system purchased for the General Staff’s Electronic Systems Command (GES).

The General Staff announced it had launched an administrative investigation into the issue, which has not yet been concluded. Among the individuals whose phones were allegedly wiretapped were academics Bask?n Oran and Dogu Ergil; former minister Fikri Saglar; actor Kenan Is?k; Equality and Democracy Party (EDP) leader Ziya Halis; Kurdish intellectual and author Orhan Miroglu; Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies S?rr? Sak?k and Sabahat Tuncel; and former Democracy Party (DEP) deputy Leyla Zana.

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