News Column

All 13 officers detained in Adana set free

August 29, 2014

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Twelve police officers who had been detained on Wednesday as part of an anti-police operation were released on Friday morning by a court, while one officer was set free on Thursday evening after testifying to a prosecutor.

Thirteen members of the police force, including deputy police chiefs, were detained on Wednesday evening in the southern province of Adana as part of a new wave of anti-police operations.

The officers were accused of "seizing personal data through illegal methods," "storing personal data," "violating privacy" and "forging official documents." In addition, they stood accused of the illegal use of instant messaging software called "TibNot."

A prosecutor behind the investigation claimed the software was installed on the computers of the detained officers via unlawful methods and that the officers used the software to leak personal data to third parties.

The detained officers were initially questioned by the police and they were later sent to a courthouse to be interrogated by a prosecutor. After the interrogation, the prosecutor set police officer Cemil Baki free and referred the remaining 12 officers to a court for arrest. The court released the officers.

According to police sources, TibNot was installed on the computers of the police officers by staff authorized by the National Police Department. It works in compliance with the internal police network (POL-NET) and works offline and does not have the capacity to store data and send it to others. It only allows communication among internal users.

TibNot is still actively used by the intelligence department of the National Police Department as well as the Counterterrorism Unit (TEM) and Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime (KOM) departments.

Lawyer Emin Bayram spoke to reporters about the detentions on Thursday evening, which he described as unlawful. He said the software, TibNot, was installed on the computers of the detained police officers by staff authorized by the National Police Department. He recalled that the officers were questioned in June as part of an earlier investigation into the allegedly illegal use of the software and they were released then.

In May, public prosecutors launched an investigation into several police officers for unlawfully installing TibNot on their computers and using the software. The 13 police officers were summoned on June 10 to testify and were released after testifying to prosecutors. The prosecutors did not drop the charges against the officers, though.

On Wednesday evening, the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for the 13 police officers. According to claims, the warrants were issued upon an order by Prosecutor Ismet Avsar and a demand by a counterterrorism unit head. Avsar, contrary to ordinary procedure, issued the arrest warrants without examining the files of accusations regarding the police officers.

According to Bayram, the detention of the police officers is unlawful because the prosecutor did not obtain the permission of the Adana governor before giving the order for the detention of the officers. "The detentions aimed to intimidate police officers. Only criminals are afraid of the law and rules. My clients do not have the slightest fear [from the legal action against them]," the lawyer said and added that he, on behalf of his clients, will file a suit seeking damages against the prosecutor behind Wednesday's operation against the police.

"If we win the suit, my clients will donate the money to the families of martyred police officers. In addition, we will appeal to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK] to ask the board to take action against members of the judiciary who have acted against the law in this operation," Bayram noted.

Wednesday's detentions come as a fourth wave in deepening anti-police operations. Three earlier operations were staged on July 22, Aug. 5 and Aug. 19, respectively. Fifty-five police officers have been placed under arrest pending trial as part of the operations. They stand accused of illegal wiretapping and spying.

Prosecutors say the operations were launched after allegations of spying and illegal wiretapping, but they are widely believed to be an act of government revenge for the Dec. 17 corruption and bribery operation and are seen as targeting the faith-based Hizmet movement. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the movement of being behind a plot to oust him. The movement denies the accusation.

Since Dec. 17, more than 40,000 police officers, civil servants, judges and prosecutors have been reassigned for no official reason other than having suspected links to the Hizmet movement. Critics have described the arbitrary reassignments as a "witch hunt."

Deputy Police Chief Halil Dag, who was released Friday morning by an Adana court, told reporters that he has not done anything wrong to put a "black stain on the honor of his nation and country." "I will continue to serve my people and state. I have been working on the police force for 22 years. I have done my profession in the best way possible and will continue to do so," he noted.

Court revises arrest decision for 11 police officers

Also on Friday, a penal court of peace in Istanbul revised the arrest decision it had previously made against 11 police officers, who had been detained as part of an anti-police operation on July 22.

The court decided to revise its arrest decision for the officers as a result of complaints filed by the officers' lawyers.

As a result of the decision, the court was set to decide whether to keep the officers under arrest or release them. The decision was not immediately available by the time Today's Zaman went to print.

The officers are accused of carrying out illegal wiretaps. They are awaiting trial.

Lawyer Kemal Simsek announced on Twitter early Friday that the officers would testify to Judge Islam ÇiÇek as the judge revises the arrest decisions. "Is it a coincidence that the arrest decisions are revised by Judge ÇiÇek, the same judge who had decided to place the police officers under arrest?" the lawyer asked.

ÇiÇek is currently serving at the Istanbul 3rd Penal Court of Peace.

In late July, he ruled to arrest 31 police officers who had been detained in Istanbul as part of a government-backed operation against the police force. He came to prominence in early March when he was also found to be a staunch supporter of Erdogan, with the judge's Facebook profile raising suspicions over his objectivity. ÇiÇek "liked" a Facebook page created by a pro-Erdogan group titled "Allah uzun ÖmÜr versin Uzun Adam" (May God grant you a long life, Tall Man). The moniker "Uzun Adam" (Tall Man) is often used to refer to Erdogan by his supporters.

Ebubekir Koran (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CIHAN

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Source: Cihan News Agency (Turkey)

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