ISTANBUL, April 25 Turkey's president approved a
law on Friday boosting the powers of the secret service, in a
move critics of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan see as a bid to
tighten his control in the country in the face of a challenge to
The law, sent to President Abdullah Gul earlier this week by
a parliament dominated by Erdogan's AK Party, gives the secret
service more scope for foreign operations and eavesdropping,
while offering top agents greater immunity from prosecution.
The secret service is run by Hakan Fidan, one of the closest
confidantes of Erdogan, who is locked in a feud with Islamic
cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally based in the United States
whose network of followers wields influence in Turkey's police
Erdogan accuses Gulen's network of orchestrating a plot to
unseat him, tapping thousands of phones, including his own, over
years and using leaked recordings to unleash corruption
allegations against his inner circle in the run-up to a series
of elections. Gulen denies involvement.
Secret service chief Fidan was himself the subject of an
inquiry in February 2012 seen by the prime minister's circle as
a challenge to his authority by a Gulen-influenced judiciary.
Erdogan's response to the corruption inquiry - purging
thousands of officers from the police force and reassigning
hundreds of prosecutors and judges - has raised concern in
Western capitals, including Brussels, which fears the
EU-candidate nation is moving further away from European norms.
Gul's approval was announced in a statement on his website.
(Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Daren Butler and Hugh