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Turkey Denies Accusations of Imams' Working in Germany as Spies – Official

© AFP 2023 / Thomas Frey / dpa / The roof of a mosque is pictured in Fuerthen, western Germany
The roof of a mosque is pictured in Fuerthen, western Germany - Sputnik International
Turkish religious officials, working in Germany, do not conduct illegal espionage or intelligence-gathering activities, Director of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs Diyanet Mehmet Gormez said in a statement obtained by Sputnik Friday.

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ANKARA (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, German police raided the apartments of four Turkish religious officials as part of an investigation by the German Federal Prosecutor's Office. The religious officials, who are members of the Ditib association of mosques in Germany, were suspected of the involvement in intelligence-gathering activities against the alleged members of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), who were accused by Ankara of an attempted coup in July 2016.

"Our religious officials are not engaged in illegal activity. With the aim of maintaining mutual trust, six religious officials suspected of excesses in carrying out their responsibilities were returned to Turkey even though they did not carry out any intelligence-gathering or espionage activity," Germez said.

The case was negatively felt by not only three million religious German residents of Turkish decent, but also five million Muslims living in Germany, he added.

"People, bearing political and social responsibility, should refrain from ill-judged and unfair allegations," Germez noted.

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Diyanet stands for respecting political neutrality and separates itself from radical groups, terrorist cells and those, exploiting religion, the statement said.

The raids, conducted by the police, have the potential to deteriorate the already tense relations between Turkey and Germany caused by the crisis surrounding the EU-Turkey migration deal.

Under this agreement, Turkey is to deter refugees from entering Europe through Turkish borders in exchange for financial aid and relaxing visa requirements for Turkish citizens. However, Turkey now also demands that Germany extradite the fugitive Turkish military officers, suspected of the coup attempt who reside within German borders.

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