Turks enable -- activate -- encryption channels for war communications


Week of March 18, 2003

Turkey's government has enabled special encrypted communications channels on the Turksat communications satellite to prevent wartime communications in northern Iraq from being intercepted, the military newspaper Istanbul Asksam has reported.

"Having decided to expand its communications network prior to an operation in Iraq, Turkey has rolled its sleeves to exchange information more securely with its allies," the newspaper stated. "Turkey is establishing 'special encrypted red-line phones' for direct and secret communications with regional and transatlantic countries," the newspaper reported.

The red-line phones use encrypted channels on the Turksat2-A satellite, which was launched from French Guyana. These channels have been kept ready for critical periods such as war.

"Now these X-band channels will be made available for use. As a result, in a possible war, Turkey will have a channel which even U.S. spy satellites cannot eavesdrop. "These specially-encrypted channels will allow Turkish officials to exchange views with all regional countries, the United States and Europe on topics requiring secrecy without worrying about eavesdropping."

Secure communications lines currently are established in the offices of the president, prime minister and minister of transportation. The military also has its own special encrypted lines. As a result of the Iraq crisis, the number of secure lines has increased to more than five, according to the report.