Turkish lawmakers pass controversial spy bill
Turkish lawmakers have approved a controversial bill that expands the powers of the country’s spy agency and grants more immunity to it.
The bill, which was approved on Thursday, would give Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) the ability to engage in secret operations and increased capacity to monitor citizens.
The bill needs to be approved by President Abdullah Gul before it becomes a law.
Ankara insists that the overhaul will make the agency more efficient.
Opposition parties say the bill grants the agency far-reaching powers that will turn Turkey into a surveillance state. The opposition has vowed to seek its cancellation at Turkey's highest court.
In January, local media in Turkey said the MIT had intervened to prevent security officers from searching trucks in the southern province of Adana that were suspected of carrying weapons to terrorist groups operating against neighboring Syria. Turkey is one of the main sponsors of militants fighting in the Arab country.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also ordered a series of Internet curbs in the run-up to key local elections on March 30, in which his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a majority of the local government seats despite recent graft allegations.
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