Turkish press reported today the uncovering of an immigration fraud scheme that allegedly involved an embassy official, and a minor diplomatic incident between Canada and Turkey about a rejected wiretapping request by Turkish police.
According to the Turkish dailies Vatan and Cumhuriyet, a Turkish citizen is under arrest warrant for defrauding immigration applicants of about $280,000. A Mr. Bahtiyar T. allegedly worked with an unnamed Embassy official to collect 500,000 liras in local currency on promises of obtaining immigration visas from otherwise unqualified applicants.
Complainants called the police after they paid $30,000 to $60,000 in “bribes to ensure guaranteed delivery” of their visas, and their telephone contact “with broken Turkish” eventually stopped answering the phone. The calls were allegedly traced to a number that belonged to the Canadian Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital. It has not been confirmed by any source that an embassy official was in fact involved in the alleged fraud.
According to the reports Embassy refused Turkish police permission to place wiretaps to gather evidence saying “This is Canadian territory”. This caused an international diplomatic incident after Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs intervened to persuade Canada External Affairs that the police should be allowed to conduct a “technical investigation” on Embassy grounds, the reports say.
Highlight of the story in Turkish press is not the alleged fraud itself, but Canada’s claim that its Embassy is outside the jurisdiction of Turkish authorities, and that Canada has rejected wiretapping. Some local readers have praised Canada saying “Finally, somebody has stood up to the wiretappers.” One headline read “The tele-ear could not reach Canada.”
With an abundance of conspiracy theories and anonymous tips that Turkish authorities take very seriously nowadays, wiretapping seems to have become Turkey’s biggest occupation, or preoccupation. An estimated one million citizens including opposition politicians, journalists and army officers are said to have had their telephone conversations bugged with or without a court order.