German police detain suspected hitman with list of Gülen followers: Der Spiegel

Photo: Der Spiegel

German police on Sept. 17 raided a hotel in Düsseldorf and detained a 40-year-old Turkish man with a gas pistol and a large amount of ammunition in addition to a list of followers of the Gülen movement, Turkish Minute reported on Friday, citing the Der Spiegel news website.

German law enforcement searched the niu Tab Hotel in Oberbilk for hours. The surrounding streets were cordoned off, and 550 guests had to vacate the hotel due to the operation.

The list of names of Gülen movement followers seized also included additional information on each person. The people on the list were possibly warned last weekend by the German police, according to Der Spiegel.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The investigators are now looking into the question of whether this was a target list for planned attacks or for spying operations. Investigators are also concerned about the ammunition because it couldn’t be used in the weapon found on the suspect.

The investigators hope to learn more from chat messages that were seized from the suspect. In addition, a financial investigation will also be launched.

The Düsseldorf public prosecutor announced on Thursday that his office was now investigating the man on suspicion of criminal activity and violating the weapons law.

In July a pro-government social media account named “Jitemkurt” published a list of Turkish journalists living in Europe and North America whom they plan to assassinate.

The account published the names of 21 journalists resident in various countries and threatened to kill them. The name of the social media account refers to a group linked to the notorious gendarmerie intelligence unit JITEM.

Later, another hit list emerged that included the names of 55 critics of the Turkish government who live in exile. Politicians and artists are included on the new list in addition to journalists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt in 2016.

In order to avoid the government-led crackdown, thousands of Gülen followers have fled Turkey and taken refuge in European countries and others.

For years, Turkey has repeatedly urged the German authorities to take action against Gülen supporters who sought asylum in the country.

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