Turkish diplomats trigger criminal investigations into children, spouses of critics

Intelligence reports created by Turkish diplomatic missions as part of a large-scale spying campaign on critics and opponents of the Turkish government living outside Turkey have been used in criminal cases in which they, their spouses and even their children were prosecuted in absentia, government documents have revealed.

According to documents obtained by Swedish-based Nordic Monitor, a public prosecutor launched criminal investigations into five government critics on dubious charges after they were profiled by Turkish diplomats who sent their names to the authorities in Turkey. The investigations show the prosecutor also ordered probes into the spouses and children of the people who were spied on abroad.

A document dated February 22, 2019 and signed by public prosecutor Birol Tufan highlights the fact that criminal investigations have been launched into innocent people who were listed in espionage files dispatched by Turkish diplomats without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. As seen in several cases, Tufan first opened an investigation into Turkish nationals living abroad, then ordered the Ankara Police Department to provide further information on critics who were accused of links to the Gülen movement, a civic group that is highly critical of the authoritarian government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Over half a million people affiliated with the Gülen movement in Turkey have been put in detention facilities in the last three years alone on similar charges. Based on profiling lists, people were arrested, investigated and even prosecuted. Their assets were seized, and family members and relatives were also the subject of criminal charges.  

Turkish diplomatic missions violate the domestic laws of receiving states and the principles of international law by conducting unlawful information-gathering campaigns and sweeping intelligence operations.   


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