The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) submitted the MİT bill to Parliament to push through wide-ranging changes that give new powers to the intelligence organization, with critics saying that the bill would ensure a legal cover for embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has found himself struggling with a corruption investigation that went public on Dec. 17.
With the new bill, if passed by Parliament and signed into law by the president, prosecutors will have to inform MİT in the event of an investigation into claims of wrongdoing of MİT personnel. As part of the new regulations, the MİT undersecretary will be tried at the Supreme Court of Appeals instead of a high criminal court.
MİT will have unfettered access to the archives and databases of every ministry and it will be able to collect any data on citizens. MİT is also tasked with the protection of national security and will carry out any mission determined by the Cabinet.
According to the new bill, a new council will be formed to coordinate intelligence gathering. The council will be chaired by the MİT undersecretary and include civilians, including the CEOs and managers of private companies, a radical change in the state mentality over the nature of intelligence affairs that aim to integrate the public mechanism and civilians into the state intelligence apparatus. The council will hold meetings once every three months to assess national security issues and intelligence gathering efforts.
With the new bill, publication of MİT documents will bring severe sentences, a move which aims to deter investigative journalists from using top secret documents provided by whistleblowers about critical issues in their news reports.