Turkey shuts down telecommunication body amid post-coup attempt measures

By Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey has shut down its Department of Telecommunications and Communication (TİB) as a part of new state of emergency decrees published in the Official Gazette on Aug. 17.

The decree hands all authority held by the TİB to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).

The decree was published as a part of the state of emergency declared after the failed July 15 coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by what the government calls the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

The central surveillance authority, established as part of the telecommunication authority in 2005, was responsible for the determination of communications made by any telecommunication network, the evaluation of signal information, and recordings. It also oversaw the implementation of the country’s website blocking laws.

According to the decree, such activities will be carried out by the BTK from now on.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on Aug. 15 had announced that the TİB would be closed.
“The TİB’s powers, responsibilities, staff and its entire technical possibilities will be transferred to the BTK,” Kurtulmuş told journalists after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had also commented on the TİB in a speech after the coup attempt.
“We want to form a strong intelligence mechanism against the activities of this organization [FETÖ]. For instance, we will shut down the TİB, because it is among the places that has all the dirt,” Erdoğan said in a speech in the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Aug. 2.

Turkey’s then-Development Minister, now Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan, said in 2015 that the TİB would move to another building as its previous building was used by FETÖ members as “headquarters for illegal wiretapping” before a huge corruption investigation that embroiled senior government figures.

“We don’t know where the cables from that building reach. We know that nearly 1,000 people in the TİB were illegally wired. We could sell the building,” he had said.