18:53 GMT +325 May 2019
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    Open Season: German BND on the Lookout for 'Turkish Spies'

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    Germany’s Federal Prosecutor's Office has launched a probe into suspected spying by Turkish security services on supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed military coup in July 2016, Munich-based newsmagazine Focus wrote.

    Self-exposure

    German media earlier reported that Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MIT) had given Germany's foreign intelligence service a list of names of hundreds of supposed Gulen supporters living in the country.

    “The authorities in the northern state of Lower Saxony are warning Gulen movement supporters about possible reprisals if they travel to their homeland, " Deutsche Welle reported.

    According to German media reports, the “MIT list” features over 200 public organizations, associations and schools complete with the addresses, phone numbers and photographs of Gulen supporters.

    In Ankara, presidential press secretary Ibrahim Kalyn accused the German authorities of giving support to the organizers of last summer’s failed coup and of allowing themselves to be used by Gulenists as an instrument of political pressure on Ankara.

    The head of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency Bruno Kahl responded by saying that the Turkish government had failed to convince Berlin that  Fethullah Gulen and his organization were behind the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey.

    Turkey accuses Fethullah Gulen and his organization of organizing last summer’s failed coup.

    A new twist

    The German authorities accuse Turkish intelligence agencies of spying in a fellow-NATO country even as Ankara admitted it in the first place and even asked for German assistance in its effort.

    The current spy scandal added a new twist to the tensions that have recently appeared in relations between Berlin and Ankara.

    Late last year Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist who reported for Die Welt, was arrested in Turkey and charged with terrorist links and incitement to violence.

    Numerous demands by Berlin and many international organizations to free the reporter were ignored by Ankara.

    In November 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the German government of allowing Kurdish separatists to hold rallies in Germany while the city authorities in Gaggenau, Cologne and Hamburg denied several Turkish ministers a chance to canvass their countrymen ahead of the April 16 referendum in Turkey.

    Widening rift

    Adding insult to injury, Berlin is reportedly looking for airfields in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus as an alternative for Turkey’s Incirlik air base where an estimated 300 Bundeswehr personnel and several Tornado reconnaissance planes are currently stationed as part of the US-led counterterrorism operation in Iraq and Syria.

    Meanwhile, Ankara’s relations with many other EU countries and the European Union as a whole are equally lackluster.

    Relations with the Netherlands soured after the Dutch authorities prevented Turkish officials from holding pro-Erdogan rallies with members of the country’s Turkish community.

    Turkey has had similar problems also with Sweden and Denmark.

    Bulgaria has accused Turkey of trying to influence the outcome of this month’s parliamentary elections in favor of a political party that represents Bulgarian Turks.

    Relations with Brussels soured even further following Turkish threats to pull out of a migrant deal with the EU, which could result in a new wave of refugees from the Middle East streaming into Western Europe.

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    Tags:
    European Union, a ban, Gulenists, "Turkish spies", rallies, tensions, Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT), German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Deniz Yucel, Bruno Kahl, Fethullah Gulen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany
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