A legal guidebook for ‘perception engineers’

Bulent Korucu
Bulent Korucu


Date posted: July 1, 2014

BÜLENT KORUCU

The campaign to manipulate public perceptions of Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement which is inspired by Gülen’s ideas is stepping up pace once again. The “wag-the-dog” strategy is wielded once again in an effort to distract public attention.

The fact that the circles looking to manipulate perceptions of the movement parrot the same old arguments indicates that they lack any strong evidence to support their case. The funny thing is that the illusion show betrays the perception engineers’ sheer lack of knowledge about laws. Another absurdity is that they rely on some prosecutors for their scandalous moves or claims about the implementation of laws. They ridiculously suggest that experienced prosecutors make technical errors even first-year law school students wouldn’t make. Government newspapers have for a long time paid no heed to professional ethics. However, I am not inclined to believe that prosecutors do not know or care about written legal texts. So it is best to believe that such simple mistakes are made by journalists.

Hoping that prosecutors are already informed about these simple legal facts, I would like to give technical support to our colleagues at Sabah, Yeni Şafak, Star and other government papers. “Prosecutors are examining all the activities of Fethullah Gülen since 1989. The acquittal and non-prosecution decisions are being scrutinized one by one,” they say. Lesson 1: The court decision acquitting Gülen — which became final after being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeals — concerns the period and crimes in question. A prosecutor can examine a court decision upheld by the relevant chamber and the Supreme Court of Appeals only with the intention of expanding his or her knowledge. Any prosecutor who sees himself superior to the Supreme Court of Appeals is quickly referred to the asylum. Even the janitors of courthouses know this simple fact. Do not humiliate yourselves. Lesson 2: There is the statute of limitations concerning criminal law. The crimes in question expire after 20 years at most. 1989+20=2009. A prosecutor who examines the case files which were subjected to the statute of limitations five years ago will gain nothing but an archive of case files. Lesson 3: The “Rahşan Amnesty,” or the Law on Probation and Deferment of Sentences, enacted in 2000, introduced an indirect pardoning of crimes committed before April 23, 1999. Many people, including some former Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants who were convicted on various charges, applied to courts which then canceled the legal consequences of their sentences. In other words, nothing can be done even to former convicts, let alone those who were acquitted from charges like Gülen.

Attention, Hürriye and Milliyet

This section will be beneficial particularly for Hürriyet and Milliyet newspapers. On Feb. 24, Star and Yeni Şafak newspapers allegedly reported that the phone lines of 7,000 people are bugged and published photos of some public figures they allege to have been bugged, such as Ertuğrul Özkök, Ahmet Ertürk, Mehmet Bekaroğlu and Yılmaz Ateş. Later, they had to reduce this figure down to 2,280 and eventually 130. However, this list was consigned to oblivion after the government reassigned many prosecutors and police chiefs in İstanbul to other provinces. At that time, the objections people had raised — saying that people’s phones cannot be wiretapped without a court order and the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) cannot permit unlawful bugging of private conversations — were lost in the noise. Two days ago, Yeni Şafak re-ran the same story, publishing the same photos. This time, the direct target is TİB. The story claimed that conversations of 64 people were wiretapped between 2008 and 2010, with the endorsement of TİB. As they learned a lesson from the first story, they refrained from unconvincing figures. An air of mystery was added to the story by a reference to satellite dishes. Dissident figures were carefully brought to the fore, with the apparent message, “Bogeymen will come and get you if you don’t surrender to us.”

It is clear that this new campaign directly targets TİB. A number of objections of a technical nature can be raised. “TİB is simply verifying whether prosecutors comply with laws. The wiretapping is done by law enforcement officials who first obtain a court order,” it may be suggested. But this effort would be futile. But there is something that boggles my mind: the head of TİB was Fethi Şimşek at that time. The government later made him the chief public prosecutor for Ankara, which indicates that the government finds him quite dependable. At that time, similar charges were being hurled against TİB from another camp. These attacks from the Judges and Prosecutors Association (YARSAV) and judge Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu were quite effective in that they forced the police to conduct searches at TİB three times. As they had voiced the serious accusation that the Supreme Court of Appeals had been bugged, the TİB investigation was quite diligent. If any irregularity had been detected, the pro-Ergenekon media outlets were ready to launch a media lynching campaign.

Şimşek defends TİB’s wiretapping practices

Şimşek held a press conference on Nov. 12, 2009 to voice his objections to the irrelevant police raids. He said that TİB is not authorized to decide whether to wiretap a conversion as it is the courts and prosecutors who should call the shots in this respect. Şimşek defended TİB’s wiretapping practices, saying, “Our wiretapping practices which are being contested are in full compliance with laws and regulations.” Then-Transportation and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım had voiced similar criticisms: “All wiretapping requests are examined by courts before court-approved requests are sent to TİB. Then, these court orders are examined and implemented by TİB. TİB rejected more than 5,000 wiretapping requests while accepting some 70,000 demands. Accepted ones involve about one-thousandth of the population. There is a common misconception: TİB does not tap any conversations that it does not have the authorization to. The institution’s duty is to permit or deny the authorities when they seek to wiretap certain communications. In the past, telecommunication companies would do this.”

Doesn’t it sound odd to you that Şimşek — who, as the head of TİB, had been accused of engaging in wiretapping — is now the prosecutor who makes the wiretapping accusations? Was he under hypnosis when private communications were being illegally wiretapped with satellite dishes on the roof of TİB’s building? “Court orders were obtained,” they say. Which court orders? Is an ounce of imagination enough to make claims about so-called evidential documents? For something to be accepted as an evidential document, it should be shown with the signatures at the bottom.

It is virtually impossible for these allegations to be legally accepted as valid. But they are used as justification for the purge of bureaucrats at many public institutions and it fits a wag-the-dog strategy perfectly. The journalists who collaborate closely with the perception engineers write tragicomic articles, asking, “How does it feel to be wiretapped?”

Source: Todays Zaman , May 31, 2014


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