Police raids hit four pirate gangs in Turkey
17th June 2009
Turkish police have conducted major anti-piracy operations against four organised criminal syndicates that effectively collapsed due to the numbers of arrests made and illegal product seized.
The first operation on 7th May targeted 83 addresses in 17 cities throughout Turkey, resulting in the arrest of 29 people and the seizure of more than seven million pirate and counterfeit items. Police confirmed that much of this product was sold or distributed through internet sites requiring the use of codes and keywords.
The second operation on 1st June saw 84 different sales points in Istanbul raided simultaneously. More than two million pirate or counterfeit items were seized and 46 people were suspected of infringing copyright law. 11 people, thought to be the gangs' leaders, were arrested by police.
The total estimated value placed on the seizures by Turkish police is more than €75 million.
As a result of these operations, the main pirate network was disrupted and its most important members were arrested. In addition, police believe the biggest pirate market, the Tahtakale, is finished.
According to Muammer Güler, the governor of Istanbul, the police's objective was to cause the collapse of the pirate syndicates, not to target individual street sellers. Officers raided production centres seizing moulds and other equipment. The governor also noted that since copyright law was changed in 2004, 6,361 people had been arrested and 37 million items of pirate product have been seized. The estimated value of this pirate material cumulatively seized is more than €350 million.
Ertugrul Günay, the minister of Culture and Tourism, has emphasised that piracy is theft and stated this should be understood by the public. He said "It's a fight against idea theft, intellectual property theft and it has to be truly understood by the public. All collecting societies and creative people have to stand up against these thieves and government bodies have to support this fight by raising public awareness. Our children should know this kind of theft is a serious crime and that the public have to pull together to support intellectual property. If there isn't any creativity there is no progress."
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