This war was sparked when four top level directors from the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) were called in as “suspects” to testify before state prosecutors in an ongoing investigation into the alleged collaboration between some intelligence officials and a terrorist organization. The prime minister viewed this venture as a declaration of war targeting him. And the solution was to insert a new article into the law that guides the principles under which the intelligence agency works, bringing a new set of armor to protect MİT agents called to testify in court. In short, the special authority possessed by the prosecutor will be limited by a special law written for this situation.
Like all Middle Eastern countries, Turkey identifies as a state that prioritizes intelligence. Authoritarian regional leaderships maintain their power through intelligence agencies. And the Kurdish issues and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorism that have been occurring in Turkey for the past 30 years now make the work of the country’s intelligence agency even more important. The most recent crisis emerged from some of the activities of the intelligence community in relation to the Kurdish problem. MİT became involved in illegal activities while trying to infiltrate the PKK and gather information. In turn, the public prosecutor, in an ongoing investigation into the alleged collaboration between some intelligence officials and a terrorist organization wants to directly investigate these activities. The justification made by leading Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdağ, as he said on a Kanal 7 TV program, that “a terrorist organization cannot be infiltrated without committing a crime.” Although this is not problematic as a generally accepted view, it is, however, fundamentally contradictory to a state of justice. An intelligence agency that commits crimes or even plays a part in crimes committed, poses a great threat to human rights.
All of the scandals that have heretofore blemished the record of the MİT were the result of legal transgressions. Due to the secrecy that surrounds MİT, they cannot really be supervised. And this inadequate supervision has sometimes led to unfair accusations against MİT to the effect that it has been involved in some dark murders. In many unsolved murders, suspicions fall heavily MİT. In some crimes however, there are actually chilling pieces of evidence that do exist. The most recent such case involved multiple accusations against top level MİT official Kaşif Kozinoğlu, who was arrested in connection to the Ergenekon case and linked with some very dark events. His suspicious death during imprisonment only worked to increase worries about these untold stories.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has remained above these two sides as they clash on the best way to solve the Kurdish problem. While implementing tough state policies against the PKK, he was also busy pushing MİT towards talks. And this political war, which broke out within the ranks of the state, wound up with the prime minister supporting MİT. This is clearly portrayed in the proposal to rework the law that will rescue MİT agents from the hands of the law this week.
The new legislation that Parliament is turning out will limit the authority enjoyed by prosecutors will solve one dimension of this new crisis. It will mean that prosecutors cannot arrest the number-one MİT name, Hakan Fidan, without permission from the prime minister. At the same time though, solving such a problem through the implementation of a new law is not really legally legitimate. There are many cases that ended in arrests that were started by the prosecutors using this same law. And the Ergenekon case has reached the point it is now due to these very authorities. And now you can be assured that debates over whether the law-changing techniques used for MİT should also be employed for heads of the military’s General Staff.
The most important problem is that the judiciary does not possess the necessary tools to defend itself before the public the way the legislative organ does. It is a legal principle that judges do not speak publicly. The only information that prosecutors can give about any event is that “the investigation is continuing.” And the fact that two very important police chiefs in İstanbul were removed from their posts by the government shows that the judiciary is not running its own show.
This crisis between the judiciary and the state will be solved by the removal of authority from the prosecutor and the transfer of this authority to the prime minister. But justice will be harmed on the way.