Mysterious clandestine group behind Turkish wiretap case
March 10, 2009 2 Comments
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Early last January, two concealed audio surveillance devices were found at the Ankara headquarters of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP). Officials and supporters of the center-left party, which is currently Turkey’s main opposition political force, were shocked by the discovery, and an investigation was launched to uncover the culprits. In a surprising move, Turkish police raided late last week the home of a prominent union official, and discovered documents that are said to directly link the CHP wiretaps with Ergenekon, a shadowy ultranationalist network with strong links to the Turkish armed forces. The documents were reportedly discovered at the home of Mustafa Özbek, chairperson of the Türk Metal workers’ union, who is already in prison awaiting trial on criminal conspiracy charges. They appear to disclose that the Ergenekon group set up a clandestine network of safe houses in Turkish capital Ankara, as well as in the occupied Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, for the sole purpose of wiretapping the communications of targeted individuals and organizations. The safe houses were reportedly equipped with wiretapping systems purchased in Israel, some of which were portable and were thus moved to various cities and towns in Turkey, in accordance with Ergenekon mission directives. Ergenekon is a clandestine ultra-nationalist organization with secularist and anti-Western objectives. Its membership, which is reportedly drawn primarily from Turkey’s military and security establishments, is involved in both criminal and political activities aiming to preserve the political power of Turkey’s armed forces, while subverting the rise of Islamism and keeping Turkey out of the European Union. The existence of this mysterious organization was revealed in 2001 by Tuncay Güney, an operative of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), who was arrested for petty fraud. Rumors about the group resurfaced in 2007, when police in Istanbul’s Ümraniye neighborhood discovered a safe house containing dozens of hand grenades. The discovery sparked a broad juridical investigation into Ergenekon’s activities, which has so far revealed that the shadow network has carried out several targeted assassinations aimed at toppling Turkey’s pro-Islamic government “by creating chaos and mayhem”. Among those individuals listed as targets in Ergenekon’s recent wiretap conspiracy are officials and maintenance staff at CHP’s headquarters, as well as several leftist politicians and union officials. Speaking about the revelations, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that he and his cabinet ministers have been at the receiving end of several threats by members of the “Ergenekon gang from inside and outside the country”. The juridical investigation into Ergenekon is expected to intensify after this latest scandal.