Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan’s spying, profiling expands in Norway

Two more Norwegian NGOs with links to Turkish government were involved in what appears to be illegal profiling and surveillance of critics and opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Norway, an investigation by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.

Hatice Luk Elmacıoğlu

In their public messages, the senior officials working for the Federation for Turkish-Norwegian Associations (Tyrkiske Foreningers Hovedorganisasjon i Norge) and Islamic Community National View (Islamske Samfunn Milli Görüş or ISMG) have all targeted members of Gülen movement, a civic based volunteer-driven organization that focuses on education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, after Turkish government has launched a witch-campaign against the movement in Turkey.

Hatice Luk Elmacıoğlu, the President of Tyrkiske Foreningers Hovedorganisasjon i Norge, admitted in her Facebook messages dated August 29-30, 2016 that she shared private data on unsuspecting Norwegian citizens of Turkish origin with Turkish government authorities.

In her conversation on Facebook with a user identified by initials as M.S. who asked her to inform Turkish state about Gülen movement members, Elmacıoğlu wrote “how do you know we are not informing [the Turkish government]?” Her comments were in reply to the message posted by user

M.S. who questioned whether Elmacıoğlu is sincere and asked her to inform Turkey about alleged members of Gülen movement living in Norway immediately and clear herself.

In another message, the President of Tyrkiske Foreningers Hovedorganisasjon i Norge, told a pro-Erdoğan journalist in Turkey how she had been working on profiling of alleged Gülen members in Norway, saying that “Turkish state is aware of everything Tyrkiske Foreningers Hovedorganisasjon i Norge has been doing [on that issue].”

In this message, Elmacıoğlu also revealed that she communicated with the ATV News channel, a network controlled by Erdoğan’s family and known for a vitriolic and hateful narrative with strong anti-Western, anti-Semitic editorial line.

Asked by a woman Pınar Aydın who expressed her wishes to see Elmacıoğlu on ATV News channel program called ‘Avrupa’da Gündem’ (The Agenda in Europe), Elmacıoğlu said she wrote to Fuat Uğur, the producer and presenter of the program. “I sent a message to Fuat Uğur, don’t worry. What we have been doing is totally known to our [Turkish] state. Do not

Pınar Aydın

worry about that either,” the President of Tyrkiske Foreningers Hovedorganisasjon i Norge underlined.

Aydın is a propagandist for Erdoğan and is known for her anti-Gülen and anti-Western writings. She run a systematic defamation targeting alleged members of Gülen movement in Norway and appeared as a guest in ATV channel segment on May 3, 2015 during which how the Norwegian Child Protection Service (Barnevernet) was alleged to have taken away kids from Turkish and Muslim families.

Aytekin Bozkurt, married to a Norwegian woman named May, also appeared in the program and claimed that Norwegian government has tried to take their daughters away for six years. The TV presenter explained how Bozkurt family escaped to Turkey with their kids to avoid further harassment by Norwegian authorities. The same story was also picked up by Daily Sabah, a paper also controlled by Erdoğan’s family, on January 22, 2017, with a headline saying “Norway’s controversial child welfare policy has habit of kidnapping children.”

On August 23, 2016, Aydın shared her story with Elmacıoğlu that revealed how profiling and espionage against alleged members of Gülen movement in Norway. The article appeared on a web portal http://www.cafesiyaset.com.tr/, she listed names of teachers and staff members working in a Norwegian school and branded them as “terrorists.” She also claimed that Norwegian government is helping the terrorist organization she called “FETÖ.” Writing to Elmacıoğlu, she said a big file had been compiled about alleged members of Gülen movement and was forwarded to the Foreign Ministry of Turkey.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory name amounts to a hate speech and relentlessly perpetuated by President Erdoğan and his government to smear the Gülen movement which is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who is one of the vocal critics of Turkish government. Gülen has been outspoken figure in lambasting Erdoğan on corruption that was exposed in December 2013 as well as Ankara’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria that was uncovered with illegal shipment revelation in January 2014.

Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt persecution against Gülen and his followers and vowed to pursue them abroad no matter where they are. Turkish government shut down all institutions affiliated with the movement and jailed over 47,000 people in the last eight months alone. He 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.

Erdoğan has also blamed the failed coup bid last year to Gülen but failed to present any direct evidence linking the cleric to the attempt. Gülen himself strongly denied any involvement. Many believe Erdoğan staged the failed coup himself to set up his critics for a mass persecution and as a pretext to transform secular parliamentary democracy to political Islamist autocracy.

Another Norwegian institution Islamske Samfunn Milli Gorus (ISMG) also involved in harassing and targeting alleged members of Gülen movement in Norway, SCF investigation found out. In a Facebook message Mustafa Samed Çetintaş who heads the communic

ations for the ISMG, called Norwegians of Turkish origin to spy on alleged members of Gülen movement. Apparently concerned that may create legal troubles, he urged his followers not to make their shared messages public. Starting his messages by saying “dishonorable members of FETÖ in Norway,” Çetintaş warned “watch out for demons.”

ISMG official also called for informing about alleged Gülen followers to addresses listed in Turkey. The email addresses he included his message point to several addresses maintained by Turkish police. “Get busy. Send an email right away about FETÖ members whom you know and got acquainted in Norway. There is no such thing as repentance. Anybody who stayed engaged with their organization after Dec.17 [graft investigations that incriminated president Erdoğan and his family members in late 2013] is criminal. Here are the lists of mail addresses for compliants: siber.onlemearastirma@egm.gov.tr, siber @egm.gov.tr, siber.ankara@egm.gov.tr, siber.istanbul@egm.gov.tr”.

In an earlier report published on Feb.17, SCF exposed how Turkish government’s spying network involved Turkish imams who were accused of profiling critics and opponents of Turkey’s President in Norway.

The Norwegian Islamist religious organizations that are affiliated with Turkish government and its Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) are reportedly involved in unlawful profiling activities of unsuspecting people of Turkish origin across Norway.

Yusuf Yüksel, General Secretary of Oslo-based Den Tyrkisk Islamske Union (Turkish Islamic Union), has publicly called for spying on alleged members of Gülen movement. In his message that was shared with a norsk-tyrkere (Norwegian Turks) on Facebook, Yüksel wrote that “Inform on FETÖ terrorists whom you know,” adding a link to his message that showed tip lines set up by the office of Erdoğan in Turkish capital. The message was shared on July 31, 2016.

In another evidence on how Diyanet imams dispatched by Turkish government engaged in defamation and harassment campaign in Norway, Musa Gelici, Turkish Imam of Oslo Tyrkisk Islamske Union, an affiliate of Norsk Tyrkia Islamske Stiftelse, (Norway Turkish Islamic Foundation), also called Gülen followers as FETÖ terror militants in his Facebook message his shared on July 16, 2016.

As a result of profiling and intelligence gathering activities on Turks who are believed to be affiliated with Gülen movement, Turkish passports of some Turks living in Norway were unlawfully revoked by Turkish government. They were even threatened with messages saying that their names were shared by Turkish government and they will be arrested in case they go back to Turkey.

In January, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) in Germany launched an investigation into Turkish intelligence operations on German soil after a lawmaker filed a criminal complaint. The spying involved Turkish imams sent by Ankara and police teams on Wednesday raided the apartments of four imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who are suspected of acting as informants on sympathizers of the Gülen movement. The GBA said in a statement that the Turkish imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20 of last year by the directorate to profile Gülen movement sympathizers.

Austria is also investigating whether Turkey has been operating an informer network targeting Gülen followers on its soil, via its embassy in Vienna. In December, Ankara had to recall Yusuf Acar, the religious attaché of the Turkish government in the Netherlands, who recently admitted to spying on alleged followers of Gülen movement. The Dutch Telegraaf daily published the remarks of Acar, who admitted that he had collected the names of people who sympathize with Turkish cleric Gülen and passed it on to Turkish government. The Dutch government called spying activities an “unwanted and non-acceptable interference in the lives of Dutch citizens.”

SWEDEN MEDIA EXPOSED ERDOĞAN’S SPYING NETWORK

In a major breaking story, Radio Sweden exposed this week how Turkish government tracks critics and dissidents in Sweden in what amounts to be an illegal profiling, harassment and threats leveled against supporters of Gülen movement.

Radio Sweden has obtained a recording of Özer Eken, chairman of a lobby organization with close links to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), attempting to strong-arm a member of the Gülen movement into providing information on other supporters.

“What I can tell you is that if you help the state, the state is going to help you,” Eken said in the voice recording, which Radio Sweden stated that it received from an anonymous source.

Eken claims to be a personal friend of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and is chairman of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), AKP’s lobby organization in Sweden. The UETD is known for its close affiliation with the AKP government.

In the conversation, Eken threatened the Swedish Gülen supporter that there would be reprisals if he did not give some concrete information on Gülenist activity in Sweden.

The story was picked by other media outlets in Sweden which further exposed how Erdogan’s network expanded in the country with a network of spying and profiling of critics and opponents illegally.

Turkish government dismissed over 135,000 public employees and arrested close to 50,000 people since July, 2016. It also jailed over 200 journalists and shut down almost 200 media outlets.

April 1, 2017

Pınar Aydın and Cem Küçük, Erdoğan’s hitman in the pro-government media.

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