German prosecutors drop probe into Turkish imams suspected of spying
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German prosecutors on Dec. 6 said they were dropping a case against several Muslim clerics suspected of spying for Turkey due to insufficient evidence and because some were out of reach of law enforcers.
The Muslim clerics targeted by the German investigation belonged to Ditib, an organisation controlled by Ankara that manages some 900 mosques and religious centers in Germany.
They were suspected of spying for the government about the network of U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen, accused of masterminding the failed coup attempt.
But German federal prosecutors said they have now halted the probe.
Prosecutors said they had sought arrest warrants for seven suspects who are now residing in unknown locations, but a presiding judge found that the individuals did not pose an urgent threat.
Another seven individuals were cleared as allegations were not substantiated by evidence.
Police were able to obtain “written documents, data storage banks and communications material” in raids targeting the suspects, but “analyses and investigations did not find” proof that they provided information to Turkish authorities.
The case against five others was dropped as they were found to have “provided only very general findings to the consulate and not concrete information relating to specific individuals.”
Ties between NATO allies Germany and Turkey nosedived over the arrest of several German citizens in Turkey and Berlin’s strong criticism of government measures in the wake of the failed coup attempt.
Recently, Turkey released two German nationals who had been detained in the country.
A week after the German citizens were granted conditional release, both sides’ foreign ministers also met in the southern province of Antalya for informal talks - the first meeting since the bitter row intensified.
On Nov. 30, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a rare phone conversation.