Turkey’s intel agency sent files on Gülenists living in Germany to BND: German media reports
ANKARA/BERLINTurkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has sent files regarding the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen living in Germany to German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) after gathering information on them by spying, according to German media reports.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR said MİT had carried out spying activities and presented the information it gathered to BND at the Munich Security Conference in 2016.
According to the reports, some 300 Gülenists living in Germany and nearly 200 schools and similar institutions affiliated to the group were on MİT’s list. The list allegedly included the addresses, mobile and landline numbers, and secretly taken photos of those suspected of being members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
After receiving the list, the BND allegedly conveyed the files to the German government, Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Federal Criminal Police Office, the police and the State Criminal Police Offices (LKA), which was followed by officials in the Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia states, warning that the names on the list were being watched by MİT.
An LKA spokesperson, who did not want to be identified, told the German media that the names under MİT watch were warned that they would experience problems if they entered Turkish territories. In addition, the North Rhine-Westphalia police allegedly advised the suspected names to think thoroughly when deciding on whether to enter Turkish missions in Germany, saying that similar problems may occur there too.
German security units have investigated how MİT had gathered the information, according to the reports.
BND head Bruno Kahl on March 18 told German magazine Der Spiegel that the Turkish government failed to convince them that Gülen was behind the coup attempt.
“Turkey has tried on different levels to convince us of that fact, but they have not succeeded. What we saw following the coup would have happened regardless, maybe not on the same scale and with such radicalism,” Kahl said, receiving harsh reactions from Turkish officials.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on March 21 said Kahl’s remarks were “a mockery of Turkish people’s intelligence,” while Defense Minister Fikri Işık said the BND chief “is either blind, deaf or feels the need to hide the suspects of the coup attempt.”
Turkey has been in a bitter row with Germany and the Netherlands after the European countries blocked campaign events by Turkish ministers rallying to gain support for a “yes” vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be shifted into an executive presidency.