A bill which expands the powers and immunities of Turkey’s intelligence agency (MIT) has been approved by President Gul. The president’s office stated that the bill had been signed by Gul on 25th April.
The new bill has come in for heavy criticism by its opponents who say that it does not contain sufficient checks and balances and heralds the beginnings of “an intelligence state.”
One particularly controversial article states that should any citizen fail to provide information or a document requested by the MIT, that citizen will face trial and could be sentenced to prison for up to four years.
However, the law says that the president, after a debate in parliament, is the final arbiter over whether or not the head of the MIT should face prosecution. The president’s decision will be final. There is also provision for the formation of a parliamentary panel to oversee the activities of the MIT.
Some observers think that head of the Constitutional Court, Hasim Kilic could annul the new law. Judge Kilic yesterday made a speech heavily critical of Prime Minister Erdogan’s attitude towards the country’s civil liberties and also accused him of creating national unrest with “hate speech”.