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AK Party mulling ways for legal action against WikiLeaks claims

Posted by seumasach on December 11, 2010

Today’s Zaman

11th December, 2010

A legal commission set up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is looking for ways to take legal action against claims made by US diplomats and released by whistleblower Internet site WikiLeaks — including claims that the prime minister, who is also the AK Party leader, owns eight secret Swiss bank accounts.

 

The commission is headed by Abdülkadir Aksu, deputy chairman of the ruling party. There are also officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Justice on the commission, which is examining international conventions to see what can be done against WikiLeaks claims.

The AK Party’s legal action is mainly targeting diplomats at the US Embassy in Ankara. The commission is now awaiting opinions from two law offices in the US about legal action. The commission recently asked the lawyers if US legislation would allow the AK Party to make claims for compensation from US diplomats mentioned in the WikiLeaks cables.

The commission recently learned that it cannot directly file lawsuits against the diplomats due to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. According to the convention, diplomatic immunity ensures that diplomats are not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country’s laws.

However, it is possible to file personal compensation claims against retired diplomats. The AK Party plans to file such a claim against John Kunstadter, a former political advisor at the US Embassy in Ankara.

The ruling party also plans to file lawsuits against Turkish figures who provided ungrounded information about the AK Party and its government to US diplomats. Among such figures are members of some political parties, academics and journalists. The figures are believed to have told US diplomats that the AK Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a hidden agenda and were seeking to damage the secular order in Turkey.

The commission has also found that Turkey will not be able to file a direct lawsuit against the US for WikiLeaks claims. In other words, Turkey cannot launch a lawsuit against the US Department of State or the US administration.

Turkey closes doors to some US diplomats

In the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations, the Turkish government has started preparations against the future appointment of diplomats to the US Embassy in Ankara.

After rumors emerged that Nancy McEldowney, chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Ankara between 2002 and 2006, — who had her signature on most of the leaked cables from Turkey — could be appointed as US ambassador to Turkey, both the AK Party government and Foreign Ministry conveyed their uneasiness to the US administration earlier this week.

Murat Mercan, chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Parliament, told Today’s Zaman that there is now little prospect that McEldowney will be appointed as the US ambassador to Turkey. According to Mercan, though Turkey has little legal power to fight against US diplomats mentioned in WikiLeaks cables, Turkey can use the revelations as a political trump card.

Now the AK Party administration plans to prohibit party and government members from talking to foreign diplomats. Any contact between a member of the AK Party and government and foreign diplomats will require special permission from the government. The prohibition is not restricted to US diplomats. Diplomats from other countries are also included in the prohibition.

 

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