New Istanbul exhibition puts the spotlight on the Turkiye’s National Intelligence Organisation MİT

The work of Turkiye’s National Intelligence Organisation, Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MİT for short, is the subject of a new exhibition at the Ataturk Cultural Centre (AKM) in Istanbul.

Called ‘Temas Istanbul’ [‘Contact Istanbul’], this fascinating exhibition invites the public to explore the exciting and intricate world of intelligence and surveillance, shedding light on MİT’s pivotal role in national security.

It includes a collection of covert listening and surveillance devices used by Turkiye’s secret service, which were hidden in everyday objects such as shoes, watches, ties, cigarette packets, and scales.

The exhibition’s origins date back to 2013, when the items were first collated as part of the training given to MİT personnel. These spy tools were first unveiled to the public in 2018 at an exhibition at the Republic Museum in Ankara. Now, as part of MİT’s 97th anniversary, the exhibition arrives at the AKM.

‘Temas Istanbul’ traces the history of the Turkish intelligence services, with curator Zihni Tümer grouping the artefacts on show under themes such as Homeland, Tradition, Future, and Pride. It also includes items, such as transcripts, which have previously never gone on public display.

Highlights include the bug discovered at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Keçiören residence in 2011, and a range of shoes Turkish spies used from the 1960s to the 1980s, which contained radio transmitters and contact microphones hidden in their heels. There are also mini hidden cameras disguised within ties, and pens and wristwatches that were used for covert listening operations.

Images from ‘Temas Istanbul’ exhibitions

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The exhibition also includes a holographic message from current MİT boss İbrahim Kalın speaking about the career prospects within the Turkish intelligence services and inviting young people to apply to join them.

‘Temas Istanbul’ opened on 19 January 2024, and runs until 11 February 2024. For more information and tickets, visit the AKM website.