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Erdogan Expands Powers over Intelligence Agency | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)

Ankara- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip on Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization on Friday after issuing a decree that said the MIT, which was previously under the prime minister, would now report to the president.

The decree gave the Turkish intelligence agency the power to investigate the defense ministry and Turkish armed forces personnel.

The president would also need to approve any request made for the MIT head, currently Hakan Fidan, to act as a witness in court.

In an other emergency decree, Turkey has dismissed over 900 public sector officials in the latest wave of the purge that followed last year’s failed coup.

More than 140,000 people have been sacked or suspended including judges and prosecutors since July 2016 over alleged links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of ordering the attempted coup. Gulen has denied the charges.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim snapped back at German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who on Thursday said Turkey would never become a European Union member as long as Erdogan remains in power.

Gabriel should focus on his own country’s affairs and should not give us lessons, Yildirim said.

The German foreign minister had made the comments in response to Erdogan’s call on ethnic Turks in Germany to vote in the September 24 elections against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their coalition partners the Social Democrats.

Despite the tension, the German foreign ministry announced on Friday that it would not issue a travel warning to Turkey.

A ministry spokeswoman said that there is no such plan.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara have deteriorated sharply, particularly since the failed coup against Erdogan and a subsequent mass crackdown on its suspected plotters.