Turkey seeks wider powers for national spy agency

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The Turkish government has submitted a draft law to the parliament which proposes wider powers for the country’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) spying agency.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said on Thursday that the draft law aims to “bestow the agency with a greater range of options.”

“With this draft law, the MIT’s activities regarding foreign security, national defense, the struggle against terrorism, counterintelligence and cybercrime will be intensified,” added the Turkish official.

If adopted, the law would give the MIT more scope for eavesdropping and foreign operations and secure greater immunity from prosecution for the organization’s top agents, according to an initial draft, Reuters reported.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, a deputy from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has criticized the draft law and said giving such authorities to the MIT “will turn Turkey into an intelligence state.”

He also pointed to the MIT’s recent role in blocking an investigation into shipments of military supplies to Syria, stressing, “Under this law, it will become impossible to launch inquiries into all illegal activities conducted by MIT in the past and the future.”

In January, local media in Turkey said the MIT had intervened to prevent security officers from searching trucks in the southern province of Adana that were suspected of carrying weapons to terrorist groups operating against neighboring Syria. Turkey is one of the main sponsors of militants fighting in Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also ordered a series of Internet curbs in the run-up to key local elections on March 30, in which his ruling Justice and Development party (AK) won a majority of the local government seats despite recent graft allegations.

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