Thursday, March 26, 2009

Surveillance Spooks Turks as Wiretaps Profusion Hurts Privacy

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Turkish actress Nurseli Idiz only makes phone calls in emergencies because when she talks, she’s concerned a stranger is listening.
“I treat phone calls like public statements,” Idiz, 49, said from her Istanbul home. She was detained by police and then released without charge six months ago on suspicion of supporting anti-government activists. Idiz denied involvement. “I know they’re listening to us even now,” she said.
A proliferation in wiretapping and bugging, bolstered by official investigations into people suspected of plotting against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, is generating waves of anxiety in Turkey. Retired generals and executives have found private conversations showing up in prosecutors’ indictments or the media.
In response, sales of anti-bugging devices have more than doubled this year, according to DijitalTakip Electronics, an online retailer. About 70,000 phones in the nation of 72 million people are being tapped by court order, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said in a TV interview on March 17. There’s also illegal recording, and that’s making the public “nervous and insecure,” he said. Turkey has about 85 million phone lines.


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