İsmail Saymaz - Hürriyet / Istanbul, March 9 () - Turkey’s top scientific body has rejected a local court’s request for evidence analysis, citing a lack of qualified specialists.
The negative response from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)’s Informatics and Information Security Advanced Technologies Research Center (BİLGEM) was filed to the 4th Heavy Penal Court in the southern province of Gaziantep on March 6, daily Hürriyet has learned.
In its request to BİLGEM, the court had originally requested analysis of four hard disks seized during an operation against an illegal organization in the southern province of Adana in February.
“Regretfully, we are not able to respond to your request positively due to the intense changes over the past six months in our staff who can conduct a digital analysis, which led our institution to have a lack of experts for your request” BİLGEM President Prof. Dr. A. Arif Ergin told the court in a written statement.
TÜBİTAK has been a battleground between the government and the followers of ally-turned-nemesis, U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen. The government recently engaged in massive reshuffling, arguing that the Gülenist “parallel structure” had infiltrated state institutions, including TÜBİTAK, and engaged in illegal wiretapping and forging digital evidence in a number of controversial cases.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the apparent wiretapping by members of TÜBİTAK on a number of occasions.
“It is very interesting, they even tap the state’s cryptic phones from TÜBİTAK. A president cannot speak with a prime minister without being wiretapped in an instant” Erdoğan said on Feb. 25, arguing that the scandal justified recent bills giving more control to the government over the Internet and the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and announcing similar measures for TÜBİTAK.
Gülen sympathizers have described such reshuffling as a “purge.”
Even before Erdoğan and Gülen turned against each other, TÜBİTAK had become a source of controversy amid allegations that the quality of its human resources was allegedly decreasing due to political appointments during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Particular debate was stirred in 2014, when Mustafa Sancar, the director of the Ankara Zoo, was appointed to a key post at TÜBİTAK in 2014.