Turkish foreign minister has rejected claims over intelligence chief as "untrue" and a bad example of a "black propaganda." Today`s Zaman reported
Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Thursday that the content and timing of a series of news reports about Turkey's intelligence chief Hakan Fidan in Western media outlets are important.
Davutoglu's remarks came on the day when Washington Post columnist David Ignatius cited "knowledgeable sources" as saying that the Turkish government disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.
Sources described the Turkish action as a "significant loss of intelligence" and "an effort to slap the Israelis."
Davutoglu said the claims about Hakan Fidan don't reflect the truth and that the first duty of a spy chief is to take necessary measures for the security of his country. The foreign minister added that the claims about him also indicates how perfect he executed his task. He noted that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has significantly increased its capacity with respect to gathering intelligence to confront possible risks and threats against Turkey, praising Fidan for developing the intelligence agency's institutional infrastructure with "extraordinary efforts."
"The only instance Hakan Fidan and other security units will answer is our nation, Turkish parlaiment and the government. For this reason, claims over Hakan Fidan are both groundless and a very bad example of black propaganda."
Earlier on Thursday, Turkish foreign minister blamed various international and domestic campaigns for trying to discredit government's "mission" and Ankara's goal to raise Turkey's global profile.
"Various campaigns both on international and national level are recently under way," Ahmet Davutoglu said from his hometown Konya, a central Anatolian town where he came to mark Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha.
Davutoglu said the campaigns against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself, Fidan and other senior officials aim at the "mission" these officials have been undertaking for Turkey's progress. He vowed that the government politicians will defy these orchestrated campaigns by "walking in this sacred path," referring to government policies.
Davutoglu said the fact that "those circles" are disturbed by Turkish officials is a sign that "we are taking strides on the right path."
"There has been a campaign in the past 3-4 months to discredit our 10-year experience. They wanted to see old Turkey returning back," Davutoglu added.
Officials in Ankara, speaking to Reuters on condition they not be named, described the article as part of an attempt to discredit Turkey by foreign powers uncomfortable with its growing influence in the Middle East.
There was no immediate comment from Israel, but Israeli ministers have accused Erdogan of adopting an anti-Israeli stance in recent years to bolster his country's standing in the Muslim world.
Ignatius opined in his article that Israeli anger at the deliberate compromise of its agents may help explain why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became so entrenched in his refusal to apologize to Erdogan about the May 2010 Gaza flotilla raid.
Once-strong relations between Turkey and Israel hit the rocks in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists who were seeking to break Israel's long-standing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Ignatius said top Israeli officials believe that, despite the apology, the severe strain with Erdogan continues. He cited Israeli intelligence officers as describing chief of Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan to CIA officials several years ago as "the [Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security] MOIS station chief in Ankara."
Davutoglu rejected the claims on Thursday, saying that "claims about Hakan Fidan are untrue."
He added that Israeli intelligence had apparently run part of its Iranian spy network through Turkey, which has relatively easy movement back and forth across its border with Iran, adding that the MİT had the resources to monitor Israeli-Iranian covert meetings.
In April 2012, Iran announced that it had broken up a large Israeli spy network and arrested 15 suspects. It was not clear if this was connected to the alleged Turkish leak.
Iran has long accused Israel of spying inside the country and of killing a string of Iranian nuclear scientists - the last in January 2012. Israel and the West accuse Iran of looking to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies this.
Ignatius stated that US officials assessed the incident as a problem of misplaced trust, rather than bad tradecraft. He cited one source to describe the justification of US officials as saying that the Mossad, after more than 50 years of cooperation with Turkey, never imagined the Turks would "shop" Israeli agents to a hostile power.
A senior official from Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said such accusations were part of a deliberate attempt to discredit Turkey and undermine its role in the region following election of Iran's relatively moderate president Hassan Rouhani.
"Turkey is a regional power and there are power centres which are uncomfortable with this ... Stories like these are part of a campaign," the official said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.
"It's clear the aim of some is to spoil the moderate political atmosphere after Rouhani's election ... and to neutralize Turkey, which contributes to solving problems in the region and which has a relationship with Iran."
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin declined to comment on the Washington Post report, but said relations with Turkey were "very complex".
"The Turks made a strategic decision ... to seek the leadership of our region, in the Middle East, and they chose the convenient anti-Israeli card in order to build up leadership," he told Israel Radio.
Energy Minister Silvan Shalom also declined to comment, but told Israel Radio that after unrest shook the Arab world in 2011, Erdogan had sought to win "legitimisation as the undisputed leader of the new revolution".
The United States tried to broker a reconciliation between its allies Turkey and Israel in March, persuading Netanyahu to apologize for the 2010 killings.
However, Israeli officials said subsequent attempts to build bridges by agreeing on a deal to compensate families of those killed in the Israeli naval raid had floundered.
"The only thing that we have achieved since March is to show the Americans that Erdogan is not remotely interested in a reconciliation," said an Israeli diplomat, who declined to be named given the sensitivity surrounding the issue.
Shortly after the 2010 incident off the shores of Gaza, the then-Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak voiced concern that Turkey could share Israeli intelligence secrets with Iran.
"There are quite a few secrets of ours (entrusted to Turkey) and the thought that they could become open to the Iranians over the next several months ... is quite disturbing," Israel's Army Radio quoted him as saying in August 2010.