ANKARA: Turkey’s Daily Milliyet Was Wiretapped, Says Former Deputy P


May 30 2010

A former top police officer who was arrested in a drug trafficking
investigation said Saturday that he was told in August 2008 that the
phone lines at the daily Milliyet were wiretapped.

Former Deputy Police Chief Emin Aslan, arrested in September 2009,
said during a hearing in his ongoing trial that a group in the
Police Department was wiretapping journalists, politicians, judges
and bureaucrats through the use of IMEI numbers.

“I criticized the IMEI wiretaps during the meetings, but nothing has
changed. To the contrary, some intelligence officials told me that my
telephone and also daily Milliyet’s phones were tapped,” said Aslan,
adding that if the court can ask the Telecommunication Transmission
Directorate, or TÄ°B, for details about the wiretappings. Aslan said
he did not know whether Milliyet had any mobile telecommunication
system but was told it did and that the system had been tapped.

IMEI numbers are similar to serial numbers and are used to identify
mobile devices on telecommunication networks.

Aslan said he believed that some people were unhappy because he
mentioned in public the negligence of institutions in the investigation
of the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

He said daily Milliyet also published many stories about the Dink case,
implying that the newspaper might have been wiretapped by those who
are investigating Dink’s case. Aslan was released pending trial after
Saturday’s hearing.

Wiretapping process

Both cell phones and land phones can be wiretapped. All phone calls can
be wiretapped by using the phone number of a cell phone or land phone,
but the wiretapping can occasionally be done by using IMEI numbers
through a court decision. With access to a phone’s IMEI number,
all lines used via the communication device can be wiretapped.

Mobile systems can be used by firms that sign a contract with
a telecommunications operator. The firm assigns a number and if
this number is wiretapped, then it is possible to record all phone
calls made over the system, according to an expert. When a firm’s
switchboard is wiretapped, then all lines connected to the board can
be tapped and all calls recorded. It is possible to wiretap calls to
extension numbers and calls made from external lines, as well as to
wiretap and record simultaneous phone calls through the switchboard.

Only three institutions can legally wiretap phones: the Police
Department, the National Intelligence Unit, or MÄ°T, and the
Gendarmerie, but the three institutions cannot install a wiretap
without a court order.

When they have a court order, they have to send it to TÄ°B for

After the wiretapping is complete, the Police Department, MÄ°T and
Gendarmerie bring the records together and deliver them to the court.

The recordings cannot be shared between the institutions or with the
TÄ°B as only the courts can legally use the recordings.

The phone line used by Milliyet is also shared with Posta, Radikal
and Fanatik newspapers and all are located in the Dogan Medya Center
in Ä°kitelli. All of them are Dogan Media Group newspapers employing
850 people.

From: A. Papazian