Nov 28 2017

U.S. used Turkish wiretapping facility to gather sanctions-busting evidence - columnist

The United States was able to gather intelligence – including evidence which will be produced at Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla sanctions-busting case – through backdoor access to the Turkish state’s largest wiretapping facility, according to Hürriyet political correspondent Abdulkadir Selvi.

Selvi said investigators who had examined the Telecommunications and Communications Presidency (TİB) base in İncek, Ankara had found three different secure lines of external communication.

One, he said, went to the Istanbul prosecutors, another to police intelligence, and the third went to a satellite in the garden that sent the data to U.S. intelligence.

If true, this answers the Turkish government’s question of how the United States could have sourced and verified the voice recordings the Southern District of New York is planning to use in its case against Atilla, who is accused of participating together with Turkish officials and Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab in a scheme to bypass sanctions on Iran.

“The FBI says that it had been listening in Turkey between 2010 and 2015,” Selvi wrote. “The CIA has also long been listening at its American National Security Agency offices in Istanbul and Ankara.”

Selvi also said the investigation might eventually reach Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“The transactions that broke the American embargo could not have been carried out without a political actor’s decision,” he said.

“Here the intention is clear. They want to say, ‘The embargo was broken on Erdoğan’s order and under his protection’.”