Germany investigating 20 Turks on suspicion of spying

According to police some 30,000 Turkish Kurds rally on behalf of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and against Turkish President and AKP party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Cologne, 3 September 2016. [Reuters]

German authorities are investigating 20 Turkish citizens on suspicion of conducting espionage in Germany, a newspaper reported yesterday (5 April).

Die Welt said it received the information in an official government response to a question about the issue filed by Sevim Dagdelen, a German lawmaker with the hard left party Die Linke.

Tensions are running high between the two NATO allies ahead of a referendum in Turkey next month that proposes expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Berlin infuriated Ankara after cancelling several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany, drawing accusations from Turkey of “Nazi” tactics.

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Germany angrily warned Turkey yesterday (19 March) that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had gone too far after he accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of using “Nazi measures” in an escalating diplomatic feud.

Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said last month it had launched a probe into suspected spying by Turkey.

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Germany launched a second investigation yesterday (28 March) into suspected spying by Turkey and its interior minister said Berlin would not tolerate foreign espionage on its soil.

German media said at the time that the entity being investigated was the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) and that it was suspected of spying on supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. Ankara accuses Gülen of organising a failed coup last July, a charge he denies.

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On Saturday (25 March) the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report on the UK’s relations with Turkey, in which the Erdoğan government’s claim that Gülenists masterminded the 15 July coup attempt is refuted.

“At the moment we are investigating a total of 20 suspects on suspicion of conducting secret service agent activities on behalf of the Turkish government,” the German government wrote in its answer to the German lawmaker, Die Welt said.

German police in February raided the apartments of four imams suspected of spying on followers of Gülen on behalf of the Turkish government.

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