The spokesperson for the parliamentary commission set up to investigate illegal wiretapping in the country has stated that the commission may hear from Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy İlhan Cihaner about how he ordered a wiretap of the phone conversations of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and several other politicians and journalists.
Cihaner gave those orders during his term in office as a chief public prosecutor.
“Our commission may make a decision to re-hear Cihaner's testimony to learn how he had the phones of prime minister and other people wiretapped,” the spokesperson, Yılmaz Tunç, was quoted by the Yeni Şafak daily on Sunday.
The commission, which consists of 17 members drawn from all political parties represented in Parliament, often invites individuals to testify about illegal wiretapping. The commission investigates what kind of equipment is being used for bugging, the primary motives behind illegal tapping and what damage this invasion of privacy causes. The commission is expected to propose suggestions on how to prevent illegal wiretapping in a final report it will prepare and submit to the Parliament Speaker's Office.
Cihaner confessed to the commission in early April that he ordered the wiretapping of phone conversations of Erdoğan, former Energy Minister Hilmi Güner, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş and Yeni Şafak owner Ahmet Albayrak when he served as the Erzincan chief public prosecutor. He said the wiretappings were aimed at obtaining evidence in the course of an investigation he was involved in at the time.
Cihaner initiated a secret investigation into the activities of the İsmailağa religious community in Erzincan toward the end of 2007. 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, Ministry of Justice 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 have faced consecutive prison terms of up to 26 years if found guilty. The trial was suspended, however, after he was elected to Parliament in 2011.