New Law In Turkey Expands Surveillance State And Cracks Down On Journalists

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag of TurkeyBBC 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.

Recep Erdogan
Recep Erdogan

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

BBC News

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23 thoughts on “New Law In Turkey Expands Surveillance State And Cracks Down On Journalists”

  1. We have come a long way from the beet farm. Racket after racket, and here we all are.

  2. In other news, Hilary Clinton has some crazed delusion that whistleblowers have legal protection.

    She thinks Snowden should simply have talked to his bosses and/or the Senate Intelligence Committe. Excesses would have been corrected and nothing bad would have happened to him.
    She’s never heard about e.g. Thomas Drake or William Binney

  3. Meanwhile back at the ranch……..

    The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign today, which will purportedly highlight “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.” A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

    Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen’s petition to hear his reporter’s privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen’s case in 2012.

  4. Psst…. Can you keep a secret?

    Erdogan needs friends in time of trouble. Give me the money. I’ll hide it.

    Evidence mounted that a series of audio recordings in which Erdogan can be heard instructing his son, Bilal, to get rid of enormous sums of money are authentic, with the government firing two senior officials at the state scientific agency responsible for the security of encrypted telephones and a U.S.-based expert on encrypted communications.

    “Whatever you have in the house, get rid of it, OK?” the prime minister can be heard telling Bilal in the opening conversation. Erdogan tells Bilal that his sister Sumeyye is on her way to help him and admonishes Bilal to tell others in the family also to get rid of cash, including Sumeyye’s husband, Bilal’s brother Burak, his uncle Mustafa Erdogan, and Erdogan’s brother-in-law, Berat Albayrak.

    “It will be good if you completely ‘zero’ it,” the prime minster is heard saying in the second conversation, which took place later that morning. In the fourth conversation at 11:15 that night, Bilal says he had almost “zeroed” out the money, but that there were some 30 million euros (about $39 million) left. When his father asks why he didn’t transfer all the money to Mehmet Gur, a contractor who was building the Erdogan family villa, Bilal responds: because “it takes a lot of space.”

  5. East of Corfu the Ten Commandments Don’t Apply. Look on the globe and see where Corfu is located. Ottoman Empire was a fake name. There is no Otto. Was no Otto and new guy thinks he is an Otto. What we have here is a Pirate Territory with aspirations to be a fascist state. It is getting there. Do no take a ship nearby their shore. Do not do business with them. Tourist travel? Jeso. No, if you must fly over please flush twice.

  6. I hope Obama and his AG are happy now. Not that other countries weren’t already a abusing their journalists and spying on their own people but Obama and Holder have made it the right thing to do. Thanks guys.

  7. The laws the Erdogen government has made go MUCH further than any US laws. While many of the rulings and measures this administration has taken are tending in that direction, they are certainly not close. I am also unaware of Obama removing judges and Federal cops as Erdogan did. Let’s deal with reality for a change.

  8. After reading this “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.” I thought of how the US has gone in a similar direction. Turkey is trying to be more like America each day, sadly….

  9. As for government owned media being bad, all my friends in Europe tune in the BBC every night to get the news. I have found the BBC to be FAR better in reporting the truth and FACTS than the US privately owned media. It all depends on the management and the people Murdoch has not proved to be better than the BBC and in FACT is FAR worse in ignoring scandals and doing illegal things.

  10. Sad example of over reach by a government. The new law sounds like the Patriot Act.

  11. One of thousands of reasons why my Greek friends don’t trust Turks.

  12. For years the western democracies refused to let Turkey into the EU – the Turks blamed racism. Time has shown that the democracies were right to keep Turkey out.

    Mr. Erdogan is pulling Turkey towards Middle Eastern political values and away from Europe.

  13. When any government takes control of the media, we lose real journalism. We must stay vigilant within our own country, as all people are prone to becoming power mongering dictators if we sleep.

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