How can US use illegal wiretaps as evidence?

Once, the FBI struggled for days to obtain a warrant to search the house of Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, who committed 16 bombings, killing three people and injuring 26. The FBI could hardly receive the required judicial authorization only minutes before the operation started, as asking security and judicial offices how they will be able to obtain the evidence forms the backbone of every penal action. All illegal searches, wiretaps and tracking without a court ruling are subject to this. According to the 4th Amendment of the U.S. constitution, evidence obtained unconstitutionally cannot be presented as evidence in court. But as of late, we see that the judiciary is breaching the constitution in the ongoing Reza Zarrab case.

Almost all the evidence presented in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as part of the Zarrab case include “mysterious” wiretap recordings. How could the U.S. obtain illegal phone records that were recognized as invalid by Turkish courts? What law allows these illegal documents to be recognized as legitimate evidence? No answers have been given to these questions.

In the Zarrab case, the U.S. is judging Turkey’s commercial relations with Iran, which have been in accordance with the United Nations charter, only because it claims that U.S. laws were violated. But why would Turkey have to conform to the impositions of the U.S.? There is no answer to this question, either.

It is possible to say that the authorities writing this indictment seem to have directly copied and pasted it from the Gülenist Terror Group’s (FETÖ) Dec. 17 indictment since it even misstates former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who is no longer in Parliament. The authorities would not have this case were it not for illegal wiretaps. Thus, I would like to ask again: By what right did the U.S. wiretap a minister of a sovereign state, and on which constitutional basis did they turn this into a litigious question?

What about the principle of judicial impartiality? Richard Berman, the judge presiding over the case, was hosted in Turkey in 2014 as part of an event organized by a FETÖ-linked law firm. Also, in an interview he gave to Gülen’s mouthpiece Today’s Zaman newspaper, Berman remarked that Gülenist prosecutors were right in the context of the case in which Iranian-Turkish gold trader Zarrab was tried in Turkey. It is obvious that the evidence in the ongoing case in the U.S. was borrowed from the case in Turkey. So, it is more than obvious that Berman has a partial stance. How could this not violate the principle of judicial impartiality? Berman recently ruled that the jury will listen to illegal records used by FETÖ-linked prosecutors in the Dec. 17 process.

In a nutshell, this case will go down in history, as a legal scandal in the U.S. The Zarrab indictment is the most explicit instance of how the U.S. can use and manipulate the law for the sake of political interests. As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, this indictment constitutes not only an assault on the Republic of Turkey, but also blackmail, since in many parts of the indictment the phrase “and other government officials” is added after the names of defendants, including Zarrab and Çağlayan. In other words, the U.S. is trying to intimidate Turkey with this case. We will see what happens next.

*This article was first published in Daily Sabah in 24 November 2017

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About the author

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan

Hilal Kaplan is a political commentator, a columnist for Sabah and other news publishers. She's based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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