News / Europe

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

FILE - Members of the Turkish Parliament convene in Ankara, March 19, 2014.
FILE - Members of the Turkish Parliament convene in Ankara, March 19, 2014.
Dorian Jones
— Turkey’s parliament has approved legislation to bolster the powers of the country’s intelligence service, which the government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats the country faces. But opponents say the measure will deepen a trend towards greater authoritarianism by the government.

Late Thursday, the Turkish Parliament passed contentious new legislation that will greatly enhance the powers of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, or M.I.T.

Law Professor Istar Gozaydin of Istanbul’s Dogus University says the new legislation is unprecedented in powers and scope.

"This much broader and much more ambiguous which limits the freedoms of expression, the freedoms of press, and communication. In the context of intelligence no accountability can be provided, so its very severe legislation that the system has never seen," said Gozaydin.

The measure, which requires presidential approval before it becomes a law, would give the  M.I.T. access to information collected by public and private institutions without a court order and would expand its ability to carry out covert operations.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, slammed the legislation.  

"Turkey is rapidly turning into an intelligence state with the M.I.T," he said. "In Germany, they founded the Gestapo. Was it legal? Yes, it was legal. But it didn’t give intelligence to the state, but rather the party. The same incident is taking place here."

Adding to those concerns is a senior deputy for the ruling AKP, Burhan Kuzu, who posted on the social media website Twitter: “When the MIT law is enacted, we will be able to enter the lairs of traitors inside and outside the country and what is necessary will be done.”

Those words echoed the threat made by Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his victory in last month’s local elections.

But the government insists it is facing an extraordinary threat to the security of the state by followers of Fetullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States.

Osman Can, a former judge and member of the ruling AK Party’s central executive committee, claims they are defending democracy.

"The Gulenists movement, in the judiciary and in the police department, they have the power. They have the facility to instrumentalize, for shaping policy.  And it is not democratic. And, it is also illegal," he said.

The government accuses Gulen followers of trying to sabotage peace efforts by the M.I.T. with the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK.

Analysts say the intelligence agency is one of a few state institutions the government trusts. Its chief, Hakan Fidan, is also a close ally and confidant of the prime minister.

Soli Ozel, political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Haber Turk, says the new law is part of an alarming trend.

"This is a triad. This is the Internet law, the changes to the higher council of judges and prosecutors, which basically make the judiciary an extension of the executive. So all of this basically leads us in one direction. That is, it’s not just that our state is unraveling but our democracy or democratic standards," said Ozel.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul still has to ratify the new intelligence law, a move widely expected. Opposition parties will likely refer the law to the constitutional court. Observers say the new intelligence legislation, if its referred to the constitutional court, it is likely to come under intense scrutiny.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid