Documents show Turkish diplomats spied on Erdoğan critics in the United Kingdom: report

The Turkish Embassy in London spied on Turkish citizens in the UK and forwarded the illegal profiling list to Ankara, which led to the launch of groundless judicial procedures against them, Nordic Monitor reported, citing official documents.

According to a December 11, 2018 decision by prosecutor Birol Tufan, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation (file no.2018/27284 ) into 70 Turkish nationals who were listed by Turkish diplomats in London without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. They were charged with “membership in a terrorist group” by Tufan.

 Judicial document dated December 12, 2018 reveals spying on critics .(The addresses and names of the Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):

Nordic Monitor previously reported that even death from COVID-19 does not prevent Turkish nationals from being profiled by Turkish diplomats in London, with a deceased Turkish national and his family members listed in parallel with an ongoing witch-hunt in Turkey. According to a Turkish Foreign Ministry document obtained by Nordic Monitor, a Turkish national informed Turkey’s consulate general in London about the death from COVID-19 of his father, a prominent businessman believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, and submitted a medical certificate to Vice Consul Hakan Etkin. However, Etkin asked for not only the address and contact details of the deceased businessman’s son, who was applying for a death certificate, but also for information about the Turkish businessman’s spouse and daughter. The consulate general then dispatched a file including their address in the United Kingdom and contact details including phone numbers and email addresses to the foreign ministry in Ankara.

Critics of the Erdoğan government abroad, especially members of the Gülen movement, have been facing surveillance, harassment, death threats and abduction since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to scapegoat the group for his own legal troubles. They have often been denied consular services such as power of attorney and birth registry, as well as having their passports revoked. Their assets in Turkey are seized and their family members at home risk criminal charges.

Most recently educator Orhan İnandı, who was included in documents previously published by Nordic Monitor, was kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan on May 31 and illegally brought to Turkey by Turkish intelligence agency MIT. İnandı, who had lived in Kyrgyzstan for nearly 30 years, was arrested July 12 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Turkish embassies are also spying on citizens who have registered for consular services. In June Nordic Monitor published a Turkish foreign ministry communiqué, stamped secret, showing that the Turkish Embassy in Kosovo profiled 78 people who had listed their professions as teachers when they made applications with the consulate for various citizen services. Similar work has apparently been done in other Turkish diplomatic missions at the request of the Turkish National Police, which was politicized with a mass purge of some 30,000 officers from the police force.

As previously disclosed by Nordic Monitor, the foreign ministry sent lists of profiled Turkish nationals in two CDs to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the national police and Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT on February 19, 2018 via an official document for further administrative or legal action, the punishment of their relatives back in Turkey and the seizure of their assets. Public prosecutor Adem Akıncı, who received the foreign ministry document on February 23, 2018, forwarded the classified CDs including information on 4,386 Erdoğan critics to the Organized Crimes Unit of the Ankara Police Department for further action. The police conveyed the results of its investigations to the public prosecutor.

According to judicial documents released by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on January 16, 2019, the foreign ministry compiled a long list of foreign entities that were owned and/or operated by people who were seen as close to the movement.

Moreover, Nordic Monitor revealed how MIT infiltrated refugee camps in Greece in order to spy on opponents who were forced to flee to Greece to escape an unprecedented crackdown in neighboring Turkey.

 Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed systematic spying on Turkish government critics on foreign soil as by Turkish diplomatic missions in February, 2020. Çavuşoğlu said Turkish diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates have officially been instructed by the government to conduct such activities abroad. “If you look at the definition of a diplomat, it is clear. … Intelligence gathering is the duty of diplomats,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish journalists on February 16, 2020 following the Munich Security Conference, adding, “Intelligence gathering and information collection are a fact.”

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