By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
BBC News is reporting legislation is now going into effect that would expand the authority of secret police agencies and offer further immunities to its agents while at the same time proscribing punishments of up to ten years imprisonment for journalists who publish what the government considers secret information.
Opponents to Prime Minister Recep Erdogan charge that the measures were enacted to boost his authority and power and to facilitate his will to stifle evidence of his various acts of corruption.
The new law extends the ability of secret service agents to conduct foreign operations, tap phone conversations and to access data held by private and public institutions
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, has said the law has effectively turned Turkey into an “intelligence state”.
Mr Erdogan has accused police, prosecutors and judges of being behind leaked information implicating him in a corruption scandal.
Earlier this year, recordings surfaced online purportedly of Mr. Erdogan and his son Bilal discussing how to hide large sums of money.
Another scandal broke when a video on the YouTube website emerged appearing to reveal top officials discussing how to stage an undercover attack inside Syria.
His government tried to ban YouTube and Twitter but the move was overturned in the courts, although a ban remained on a handful of YouTube videos in particular.
Mr Erdogan has purged hundreds of people from the judiciary and police since several of his allies were arrested over another corruption scandal in December.
Mr Erdogan says the recordings are fabricated and has railed against “plots” to undermine him.
The accusations made certainly point to another battle for the soul of Turkey on the political front. This brings forth a new chapter of the old book of political oppression. The old guard is up to its usual measures in curtailing dissent but is forced to adapt to dissidents, who often in this case are more technical savvy, to remain often one step ahead. Given the global availability of communications and internet experts sympathetic to the dissenters in Turkey, it is highly unlikely the government will prevail on the technical front, but will instead use the threat of fear and incarceration to attempt to install a halo effect in the population.
But maintaining a complete security apparatus in controlling a population is expensive in terms of resources, money, and political backing. Though Mr. Erdogan’s support through his political party might appear formidable, charges of corruption might eventually undermine that support base and weaken him politically. It would be then that all the strength and fortification his opponents have been forced to build to protect themselves from the surveillance and oppression might actually come back to haunt him, because it will then be a powerful force to remove him from power.
By Darren Smith
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