Espionage gang obtained military secrets, threatened officers

Details of a recent police operation against a military espionage gang have shown that the gang obtained top military secrets, including charts of military barracks and bases, information about munitions stores and software programs of warplanes and other military vehicles.

The gang also illegally obtained personal information about around 2,500 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), most of whom are on active duty, and blackmailed them using the information in order to ensure that the officers cooperated with the gang.

Earlier this week, 49 people were taken into custody as a result of a police operation against gang members. Among the detainees were active duty and retired members of the military. Those in custody are allegedly serving in critical positions in the Ministry of Defense, the Land Forces Command, the Naval Forces Command and the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA). Prior to this wave of detentions, 20 people were arrested for involvement in the gang.

The gang is accused of hiring foreign women as prostitutes for military officers from whom they obtained military information and then selling that information to third parties. The gang is based in İzmir and reportedly has branches in a number of provinces, including İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Antalya, Muğla, Manisa, Zonguldak and Ordu. The gang is reportedly headed by a 25-year-old woman who is studying at Pamukkale University in Denizli. The investigation against the espionage gang started around a year-and-a-half ago after a specially authorized prosecutor ordered electronic and physical surveillance of the suspects.

Police sources said on Friday that the investigation is ongoing, and new waves of detentions may occur in the days to come. In the past two waves of operations against the gang, police discovered a large number of military documents and other materials, including CDs that showed intimate relations between military officers and foreign women hired by the gang. Police also seized confidential documents kept in military facilities dubbed the “cosmic room” and documents prepared by high-level military officers in the past that categorize members of the military according to their religious and ideological inclinations. Police also uncovered a military uniform and a military ID at the house of the suspected leader of the gang. The leader reportedly introduced herself as a noncommissioned officer to other military officers and easily had access to military facilities.

In the meantime, officials from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) reportedly asked for an appointment from prosecutors involved in the investigation against the gang to receive information about the ongoing probe. It was not immediately clear whether the prosecutors had agreed to receive the MİT officials. According to news reports, the espionage gang has no connection with alleged military plans to stage a coup d’état against the government.

2012-06-15

Muhabir: Today’s Zaman