Nestled within a pristine natural and historical conservation area at the heart of Turkey’s capital, approximately two kilometers from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opulent palace, a clandestine facility operated by Turkey’s notorious intelligence agency, MIT (National Intelligence Organization), serves as a hub for arms transfers to jihadist groups and a black site for torture and mistreatment of abducted individuals.
Situated at the coordinates 39.92632610216299, 32.77207015662205 on Google Maps, this covert facility enjoys a strategic location. It is positioned a mere 230 meters from Anadolu Boulevard and approximately 600 meters from Ankara Boulevard, which facilitates ease of access for intelligence operatives, enabling the transportation of arms in large trucks and the covert transfer of abducted victims for interrogation under inhumane conditions of torture.
The 2023 Google Maps imagery suggests that the site remains active, revealing three cars parked adjacent to the facility’s gate. Additionally, a control point was established along the road leading to the site, with a lift arm barrier positioned approximately 30 meters before the main gate. Furthermore, three major satellite dishes are mounted on the southern side of the compound. There are no nearby buildings, rendering the facility completely secluded from public view and scrutiny.
In early 2016 the facility underwent extensive renovations on orders from Hakan Fidan, the then-head of MIT and currently the foreign minister in Erdogan’s cabinet. These renovations were carried out to accommodate torture cells for victims kidnapped by MIT.
During a 2014 criminal investigation into the al-Qaeda network in Turkey, it was revealed that this secret facility was utilized as a hub for the dispatch of arms and logistical supplies to armed jihadist factions, particularly those backed by Turkey in Syria and Iraq. The investigation was hushed up by the Erdogan government, and MIT agents who were involved in illegal arms trafficking to jihadists were saved from legal troubles.
The use of the black site for such activities persists to this day under the leadership of Ibrahim Kalın, who assumed the role of MIT director, succeeding Fidan, in June.
Witness testimony, confessions from senior MIT officials and court documents have all confirmed the existence of this black site in a secluded section of the Atatürk Forestry Farm (Atatürk Orman Çiftliği, AOÇ), the largest green space in Ankara. The site is operated by MIT’s Special Operations Department, which is headed by Kemal Eskintan, a former colonel also responsible for managing foreign jihadist groups. A specialized interrogation team, known for employing highly invasive torture tactics, is affiliated with the Special Operations Department.
The layout and operational details of the site were disclosed by two senior MIT officials, Erhan Pekçetin and Aydın Günel, who were apprehended by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish city in Iraq, on August 4, 2017. Pekçetin was a department head responsible for overseeing ethnic and separatist groups operating beyond Turkey’s borders, while Günel was responsible for managing the human resources department at MIT. His role included developing human intelligence assets in the field and recruiting new informants. Both appeared in a video interview released by the PKK in which they revealed details of MIT operations and its modus operandi.
In the interview Pekçetin said he personally witnessed Ayhan Oran, a former MIT employee, being subjected to torture in one of the cells located at the site in 2016. Oran is among the many MIT employees who have been dismissed from service since 2015 as part of the Erdogan government’s extensive purge of professionals, aimed at making space for far-right nationalists and Islamists who were expected to carry out the agenda of the Erdogan regime.
Oran was abducted in November 2016 and held at the black site. As of today, his whereabouts remain unknown. In a two-page letter dated August 15, 2016 and left with his wife before his disappearance, Oran said MIT would be responsible if he were to go missing. His wife submitted the letter to the police on January 16, 2017, as part of a missing person investigation, which was subsequently obstructed by MIT.
In court testimony at the Ankara 2nd High Criminal Court on March 26, 2019, Vehbi Kürşad Akalın, a former intelligence officer, revealed that during his detention in 2017 when he was subjected to abuse, he was shown videos of Oran and Mesut Geçer, both former MIT employees, enduring torture.
Akalın was informed that a similar fate awaited him. According to his testimony, Turkish intelligence had developed special and illegal interrogation methods that could only be carried out under specific orders from the chief of intelligence. He further stated that a classified internal circular required that, after approval granted by the intelligence chief, the entire torture session must be recorded on video.
He also disclosed that he and others became aware of the existence of torture chambers, operated by the Special Operations Department, during their training as junior officers by MIT after their recruitment and background checks. He informed the court that he was coerced into signing a prepared confession because his interrogators threatened to transfer him to the black site for severe torture. Akalın was accused of being associated with government critic the Gülen movement, a claim he denied in his testimony.
“Oran’s wife filed multiple reports with the police and prosecutors in Ankara, including criminal complaints against those who had failed to investigate the allegations concerning the black site and who did not review the MOBESA (public surveillance cameras) records.
Turkish authorities disregarded her appeals, neglected to conduct an effective investigation and even restricted public access to the case file to protect the intelligence agency. In a ruling issued on September 14, 2022, in response to a rights violations complaint filed by Oran’s sister, Ayla Oran Özgun, Turkey’s Constitutional Court affirmed the lack of an effective investigation and determined that the right to protect life had been violated.
Another confirmation regarding the existence of the black site came from Mehmet Eymür, a retired intelligence officer who had previously worked in MIT’s counterterrorism department. In an interview with Turkish online news portal T24 in November 2021, Eymür admitted to MIT’s use of torture tactics during interrogations. He acknowledged his personal involvement in mistreating suspects detained by the agency in the past but claimed that none of those practices were comparable to what MIT does today. He said, “There are now more severe [torture] methods. There have been deaths. Even a MIT employee disappeared during an interrogation,” referring to the Oran case at the black site.
In July 2017 an anonymous user on Twitter, now rebranded as X, with the handle Meçhul Kayıkçı, @kayikci06, who claimed to be a MIT employee, made significant revelations through social media posts, confirming the existence of the black site and detailing the torture practices. This individual expressed remorse for his involvement in kidnappings and torture and the transfer of arms to jihadists. He admitted to experiencing sleepless nights and described constantly hearing the echoes of screams of torture victims in his ears.
According to the whistleblower, the interrogation rooms at the black site were specially designed long before a false flag coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The order for this came directly from Fidan himself, and certain changes were made to the agency’s regulations to facilitate kidnappings and torture. Disturbingly, not only were kidnapped individuals subjected to these brutal interrogations, but those already held in prisons were also brought to the site, enduring months of torment. The whistleblower noted that the blanket immunity from any criminal investigation, granted to MIT by the Erdogan government, enabled them to operate with complete impunity.
If he refused to participate in torture, he feared that he, too, would be labeled as a traitor and subjected to the same ordeal as the torture victims. He found himself trapped between the deep remorse he felt and the fear of ending up in the same situation as the victims if he refused to comply. The whistleblower disclosed that two Volkswagen Transporter vans, one black and the other grey, were employed in the abduction of victims. He further revealed that harsh torture tactics were used until the victims agreed to confess to whatever MIT demanded. He expressed his readiness to cooperate with prosecutors if investigations into these torture allegations were initiated in the future.
On July 8, 2017 Oran’s wife filed a complaint based on the whistleblower’s allegations, urging the prosecutor’s office to investigate the claims and uncover the identity of the whistleblower. However, the complaint mysteriously disappeared within the prosecutor’s office, and no action was taken by the authorities to investigate the claims made by the whistleblower.
This is not the only torture site operated by MIT. They have another facility established near the airport in Ankara, and there are several other such sites scattered across Turkey. Furthermore, beyond Turkish borders, MIT also maintains secret sites in northern Syria that have been used for extreme torture and interrogation tactics. These sites are not limited to foreign nationals; they have also been used for people who were abducted in Turkey.
Despite the mounting evidence, numerous criminal complaints, victim statements and confessions from senior MIT officials, the Erdogan government has never initiated any effective investigations into the allegations of torture. In certain cases, prosecutors appeared to be pursuing investigations into these claims, only to later abandon them, citing a lack of evidence as a pretext. To date, no on-site inspections have been conducted at the black sites in Ankara.
Abdullah Bozkurt, a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow, is a Sweden-based investigative journalist and analyst who runs the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network and is chairman of the Stockholm Center for Freedom.