A suspected Turkish agent is charged with spying on dissidents for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and violating the weapons law in an indictment brought before the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, Turkish Minute reported, citing German news outlets.
German federal prosecutors said in the indictment sent to the court on March 17 that the suspect, identified as Ali D., who was arrested in a Düsseldorf hotel on Sept. 17, 2021, after an employee noticed a weapon on him, had been collecting information on supporters of the Gülen movement and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in order to pass it on to Turkish intelligence service MİT since August 2018.
The suspect is said to have passed on information about three German citizens, claiming that one of them was a PKK member and that the other two were close to the Gülen movement. He is also said to have collected information about three other individuals.
According to the prosecutors Ali D. also trained at shooting ranges in Germany in order to find like-minded people there for spying purposes. He is said to have been successful in recruiting a person as an informant there and bought ammunition from him to be used in a shooting range in September.
The suspect is also said to have bought a pistol in March 2021 and carried it with him when driving a car in order to be able to give more weight to his appearance as a contact person for Turkish intelligence services in his area.
Ali D. has been in custody since his arrest in September.
According to a Der Spiegel report at the time, 200 rounds of live ammunition and documents with the names of some Gülen movement followers, which included additional information on each person, were also seized in the suspect’s hotel room.
Federal prosecutors took over the investigation from the Düsseldorf prosecution office on Sept. 29, standard procedure in cases of suspected foreign agent activity.
The PKK, a Kurdish group that has waged a separatist insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Ankara also accuses the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen — a longtime critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — 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.
In July 2021 a pro-government social media account named “Jitemkurt” published a list of Turkish journalists living in Europe and North America whom they planned 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 were living in exile. Politicians and artists were included on the new list in addition to journalists.
Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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 and other countries.
For years, Turkey has repeatedly urged the German authorities to take action against Gülen supporters who sought asylum in the country.