Intelligence bill set to be discussed in Turkish parliament

Photo: Intelligence bill set to be discussed in Turkish parliament / Turkey

A draft law to expand the powers of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is set to be discussed at a parliamentary commission, amid growing anxiety that the move will curtail the right to privacy and the principle of business confidentiality, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Parliament's Internal Affairs Commission will begin to debate the draft law on Feb. 22, with plans to have it approved next week. However, criticisms from opposition parties and some civil society organizations are mounting amid concerns that the bill will have direct impacts on various aspects of civil and economic life in Turkey.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Head Faik Öztrak stressed that if approved, the MİT would have the right to access databases of banks and all sorts of economy-related institutions, which would end business secrecy and privacy.

'New regulation will hit the economy'

"This regulation will hit the economy and will have a negative impact of the functions of the economy," Öztrak told reporters at a press conference on Feb. 21.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu continued his criticisms of the draft, warning that the move would rapidly turn Turkey into an intelligence state. "If the state profiles its citizens and eavesdrops on them it will be the harshest of blows to our democracy," Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters.

"What will we tell our citizens if our country is going to be run by intelligence? They [the Justice and Development Party] came to government promising that they would fight against bans. Citizens who voted for them did so because of this. Now they have turned Turkey into a country of bans," he added.

The move was also criticized by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş, who described the move as an attempt to increase Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's control and power in the country. "We are totally against this bill and we won't back it," Demirtaş told reporters.

"Is there any country afraid of Turkey now? Syria, Iraq, Israel, Bulgaria or Greece? No. This draft aims to increase the operational capacity of the MİT for the government's objectives of eradicating the opposition, profiling and surveying citizens, and listening to them, rather than strengthening the MİT's intelligence and operational capacities [against other countries]," he added.

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