German lawmakers slam Turkish gov’t for MİT’s spying on colleague

German lawmaker Michelle Muentefering chairs the German-Turkish parliamentary group.

German lawmakers have voiced anger at claims that Turkey is spying on a fellow member of Parliament. The caucus leader of the Social Democratic Party said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that lawmaker Michelle Muentefering appeared on a list Turkey’s spy agency MİT handed to its German counterpart, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND).

German media reported that Muentefering appeared under the heading “centers of power and non-governmental organizations” on a list of people and groups allegedly linked to the Gülen movement .

 The Turkish government claims supporters of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen were behind last year’s coup attempt in Turkey. Gülen and the movement denies any involvement.

SPD caucus leader Thomas Oppermann said in a statement Wednesday that “the Turkish government must immediately stop this spying.”

Muentefering, who chairs the German-Turkish parliamentary group, said “a line has clearly been crossed.”

“These measures by the Turkish government once more show the attempt to suppress critical views,” she said in a statement. “I stand for dialogue and clear language, with the most varied and difficult dialogue partners at home and abroad,” she said.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR on March 28 said MİT had carried out spying activities and presented the information it gathered to BND at the Munich Security Conference in 2016.

German prosecutors are probing claims that MİT has been spying on 300 alleged sympathizers of Gülen movement.  According to the reports, some 300 alleged sympathizers of Gülen movement living in Germany and nearly 200 schools and similar institutions affiliated to the movement were on MİT’s spying list. The list allegedly included the addresses, mobile and landline numbers, and secretly taken photos of those Gülen sympathizers.

Gülen movement has been inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been advocating science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution. The movement promotes a moderate version of Islam with a heavy emphasis on public service. The movement runs schools and universities in 180 countries.

Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on massive corruption in the government as well as Turkey’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria. Erdoğan launched an unprecedented persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members.

The ruling AKP’s political Islamist leaders labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.

However, in an interview published in Der Spiegel magazine on March 18, BND head Bruno Kahl said despite efforts at various levels, Turkey could not convince Berlin that Gülen was behind the failed coup.

In response to a question on the Gülen movement, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by President Erdoğan, the head of German intelligence defined the movement as a civilian association that provides religious and secular education through a number of educational institutions.

Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a great gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Earlier in January, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that although President Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup on the faith-based Gülen movement, the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge, according to a report by The Times newspaper.

Contrary to accusations made by Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament has concluded on March 25 that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said last week that he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

March 30, 2017

 

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