Turkey's 'religious spy network' allegedly exposed by secret documents
Turkish embassies around the world reportedly started transmitting information on President Erdogan’s perceived enemies to Ankara last September, only one week after receiving orders.
The scale of Turkey’s international spy network has been revealed by alleged secret documents, released by an Austrian Green-party politician.
"There is clearly a global network of informants. We cannot say exactly how long it took to build up this network. I assume that it happened in a matter of years," claimed Peter Pilz MP.
A senior Turkish government official denied the claims, calling them "completely false".
The documents, which Pilz says he received from a Turkish source, show that Turkish embassies in over 30 countries on four continents sent reports on alleged supporters of the banned cleric, Fethullah Gulen, to the Turkish state religious authority, Diyanet.
“In every single state a huge spy network consisting of associations, clubs and mosques is being employed via the embassy, the religious attaché and the local intelligence officer in order to spy on Erdogan critics around the clock.”
German prosecutors are investigating the head of Diyanet, Halife Keskin, the German media reported on Friday night, as one document showed he personally ordered the global espionage programme, asking for all reports to be dispatched to him.
The German federal prosecutor's office declined to comment.
According to an official at the Diyanet, Keskin is currently in Turkey and they had received no information from the German authorities that their bureau chief was being investigated.
Turkey accuses Gulen of being behind a failed coup of July last year and has carried out a widespread hunt to uncover his followers.
Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the German charge d’affaires in Ankara on Tuesday, after Germany’s top spy chief said he was not convinced that Gulen was connected to last year’s attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.The UK government has also admitted that it does not have any evidence that Gulen organised the July coup attempt, despite frequent and repeated claims from Ankara.
Agencies contributed to this report