Records of phone conversations of certain members of a religious community, as well as some former ministers and bureaucrats, obtained illegally through an order issued by former public prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, have been discovered on the computer of a mayor from the Republican People's Party (CHP), according to a news report.
Cihaner resigned from his post in 2011 and was elected as a deputy from the CHP in the general elections of June 12 of the same year.
The Star daily reported on Thursday that a prosecutor had previously ordered a police search of the office of Sarıyer Mayor Şükrü Genç as part of an ongoing investigation into claims of corruption at the municipality. The police seized the mayor's computer and discovered that the hard drives included records of phone conversations of certain members of the İsmailağa religious community and some former ministers and bureaucrats, all wiretapped illegally in the past on Cihaner's order. The wiretappings were carried out between 2007 and 2009 by the Erzincan Provincial Gendarmerie Intelligence Department.
Cihaner initiated a secret investigation into the activities of the İsmailağa religious community in Erzincan towards the end of 2007, where he was serving as the chief public prosecutor. The investigation continued for almost two years, and the correspondence and phone conversations of several officials and members of the community were monitored. Cihaner suspected that İsmailağa was an armed terrorist group and was engaged in activities to destroy the republic.
In 2009, Justice Ministry inspectors uncovered irregularities in the İsmailağa probe. An investigation was launched into Cihaner on the grounds that he had not informed the justice minister about his investigation into the İsmailağa religious community. Cihaner allegedly carried out the investigation illegally, in violation of established legal practices, and had overstepped his authority.
Cihaner stood trial as a result of the irregularities in the İsmailağa investigation and he would face consecutive prison terms of up to 26 years if found guilty. The trial was suspended, however, after he was elected to Parliament.
In a defense statement in 2010 before the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which was investigating the probe, Cihaner said his office had found no sign of armed terrorism or violence in the İsmailağa probe. However, he refused to send the records of the wiretapped conversations to the HSYK or to the Justice Ministry.
Star said most of the conversations wiretapped were between members of the İsmailağa community and their family members. Former Environment and Forestry Minister Osman Pepe was among the ministers wiretapped illegally.