Turkey’s DİTİB given Big Brother award for spying on Erdoğan critics in Germany

A document dated Sept. 20, 2016 shows that Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) asked Turkish missions and religious representatives abroad to profile Gülen movement expatriates living in their respective foreign countries.

The Cologne-based Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) has been awarded the BigBrotherAward 2017 in the category of politics for its spying activities against the critics of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and particularly against the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

“The imitators working at DİTİB for Turkish authorities and for the MİT intelligence agency to spy on their members and visitors, and to have thus handed them over to the persecution by Turkish state authorities,” has brought the not-so-coveted award to the union.

The BigBrotherAwards have been awarded by the digital rights organization Digitalcourage to companies, organizations and individuals in Germany who particularly and permanently impair the privacy of people or make personal data available to third parties, since 2000.

A confidential document leaked on the Internet, dated Sept. 20, 2016, said that the Turkey’s religious directorate Diyanet asked Turkish missions and religious representatives abroad to profile Gülen movement expatriates living in their respective countries.

The spying mostly targeted Europe-based followers of the Gülen movement. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said in a statement that the DİTİB imams had acted on the Sept. 20 order.

DİTİB has wowed to file lawsuit against Digitalcourage, claiming defamation.

A top executive of DİTİB resigned in February amid spying charges against Turkish imams in Germany. The coordinator of DİTİB, Murat Kayman, announced the resignation on his blog as the spying imam issue has led to tensions between Turkey and Germany. The imams are accused of illegally profiling Turkish people in Germany, particularly sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

German police teams also raided the apartments of four DİTİB imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who are suspected of acting as informants. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said in a statement that the imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20 of last year by the directorate to profile Gülen movement sympathizers.

Earlier, DİTİB officials admitted to profiling Gülen movement sympathizers based on instructions from Turkey’s top religious authority, the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

In January, the GBA launched an investigation into Turkish intelligence operations on German soil after a lawmaker filed a criminal complaint. Austria also started an investigation over a Turkey’s informer network targeting Gülen followers on its soil, via its embassy in Vienna. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) May 6, 2017

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