Turkey's parliament approves wider MIT powers

Photo: Turkey's parliament approves wider MIT powers / Turkey

Turkey's parliament passed Thursday a draft law designed to give the country's spy agency, MIT, broader powers, including the right to maintain contact with any domestic and foreign institution and an extended scope for eavesdropping Anadolu Agency reported.

The new bill augments the existing duties of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization with a number of new services including the responsibility to carry out duties determined by the Cabinet.

The following are some of the regulations introduced with the new legislation:

- It stipulates that all public institutions, professional organizations with public institution status, banks, and all incorporated and unincorporated associations will be required to open their data, records and equipment's to the use of MIT when demanded.

- The bill allows the agency to collect any data processed through the country's telecommunications channels regarding foreign intelligence, national security, terror and international crimes.

- If necessary during operations, the agency will have the right to change its personnel's identity and to take any kind of measure to protect the secrecy of the real identities.

- The agency will have the capacity to maintain contact with any group that poses a threat to Turkey's national security, including terrorist organizations. Intelligence officials will also be able to contact with prisoners and convicts serving jail terms.

- The bill introduces prisons terms of up to 10 years for the stealing and up to 9 years for the leaking of MIT's classified documents to the media.

- It also stipulates that the agency's permission will be necessary for prosecutors to launch an investigation into MIT's activities of personnel.

Earlier on Thursday, the country's parliament approved a motion by Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay to add an article to the bill that enables the parliament to audit MIT.

The motion says that, in addition to MIT, a 17-member committee on "Security and Intelligence" will also audit the police intelligence bureau, gendarmerie intelligence unit, and financial crime investigation board.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party has said it will appeal to the Constitutional Court for the repeal of the legislation.

The new law needs to be ratified by the Turkish president and published in the Official Gazette -- a daily printed record of legislative acts and notices -- before it enters into force.

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