Turkey seeks to widen powers of spy agency

The proposed bill would give the country' spy agency, which reports to Erdogan, more sweeping powers

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Turkey’s government has submitted a bill to parliament to give the country’s spy agency more sweeping powers, a parliamentary source said Thursday.

The bill aims to give the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) the authority to carry out missions and surveillance both in Turkey and abroad without the need for a court order.

The MIT, which reports to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will also have unlimited access to all documents -- from personal information to data on public or banking sector -- pertaining to national security.

And journalists who publish MIT documents face up to 12 years in prison -- seen as a fresh attempt by Erdogan to stifle dissent.

Erdogan has come under fire at home and abroad for what critics see as increasingly authoritarian policies, including curbs on the judiciary and the Internet.

The government also embarked on a massive purge of police and prosecutors in the wake of a damaging corruption probe launched last year targeting several members of Erdogan’s inner circle.

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