Istanbul, July 13 () - The first hearing of a case into officials from Turkey’s top science body and top telecommunications authority on charges of illegally wiretapping the encrypted phones of high-ranking state officials, including then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was held before the Ankara 2nd Heavy Penal Court on July 13.
Some 28 people working at the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), including former TİB Deputy Chairman Osman Nihat Şen and former TÜBİTAK Vice President Hasan Palaz, stood trial.
Şen denied accusations by saying he did not give “any unlawful orders and no unlawful wiretapping was done” during his term at the TİB. Stating his extensive career at TİB where he had worked in every capacity since March 2007, Şen said that he was forced to resign by those who claimed it would be “bad” for him otherwise. He claimed that the current head of the TİB insulted him and intensely bullied him during his term.
He also denied the accusations of his alleged leadership of an organization that had wiretapped the encrypted phones.“If I am the leader [of this organization], then where is [the former head of Turkey’s Information and Communications Technologies Authority, BTK] Tayfun Acarer? He has approved all of my decisions” said Şen.
Another suspect, Ayhan Yeni, who has worked as a computer engineer in TÜBİTAK between 2010 and February 2015, told the court that he had not worked on any of the alleged cellphone projects. “The indictment says I have authority to have access to the IMEI numbers [of the mobile phones]. I did not have such and authority,” he said, adding, “I am in prison for two months and I don’t know why.”
Yeni also denied the accusations that he is a member of the “Fethullahçı Terror Organization,” a term used in the indictment to refer to followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who are accused of attempting to undermine the state.
Suspect Özgür Ören told the court that he had previously worked on a project to wiretap encrypted phones by the Turkish military between 2009 and 2010 and he delivered the results to the military. He said that the indictment linked his name to a project on which he had not even worked.
Suspect İmran Ergüler, who has worked at TÜBİTAK since 2005, also said that he had not worked on projects with encrypted phones. The suspects are accused of “attempting to annul the government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to partially or entirely block the government from performing its duties, being a member of a terror organization, collecting state information that should have stayed confidential for purposes of political or military spying aims and openly revealing the secrecy of communication between individuals.”