A new case of refugee espionage abroad committed by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), which is under direct control of the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has this time targeted a Turkish business family that lives in the United States and is allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement.
The AA’s refugee espionage has targeted prominent Turkish businessman Osman Nakıboğlu and his son Bahaeddin Nakıboğlu, who had shares at NAKSAN Holding, which was seized illegally by Erdoğan government in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The AA had also serviced 3 stories about followers of the Gülen movement who live in the US that have created fear that the Turkish government has accelerated its intimidation tactics and refugee espionage in the US.
Foreign countries’ intelligence activities targeting dissidents in exile is known as “refugee espionage.” It is well known fact that AA has collaborated with Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) in its so-called news gathering abroad.
Refugee espionage make people fear not only for their own security but also that of relatives in their former home countries. This may also undermine the democratic process and lead to a situation where people who have sought asylum in another country may no longer feel able to enjoy their constitutional rights and freedoms. Such dissidents may also be subject to monitoring by foreign intelligence services.
As a Gaziantep-based businessmen Osman Nakıboğlu and his son Bahaeddin has moved to the US in 2014 to protect themselves from the increasing persecution of Erdoğan government targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement as part of its massive witch hunt.
Shooting vidoes and taking photographs of Nakıboğlus and their house and firms, the AA reporter Ertuğrul Cingil reported that Osman Nakıboğlu and Bahaeddin Nakıboğlu live in Foster City district of San Mateo in Bay Area of California. The AA also gave many details of Nakıboğlus’ live in the US after chasing secretly them step by step.
Cahit Nakıboğlu, a 70-year-old businessman who is from the same family had spent nearly 1,5 years behind the bars as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown against the Gülen movement, was re-arrested only a day after he was released under house arrest on January 6, 2018.
The new ruling to re-jail him came hours after the pro-government journalist Cem Küçük criticized the initial court decision to conditionally release him. “Oh, Nakıboğlu was released as well. Good (!) decision. Continue like that,” Küçük tweeted the same day. Nakıboğlu was jailed again upon an objection by the prosecutor against his release decision
Nakıboğlu was first arrested on July 14, 2016 over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement. A Gaziantep court released him under a house arrest due to Nakıboğlu’s medical problems during a hearing on Jan 4, 2018.
Jailed Turkish businessman Taner Nakıboğlu, one of the owner of government-seized NAKSAN Holding, a Turkey-based packing company, said during a hearing in November 2018 that before his company was confiscated, he was the richest businessmen in Gaziantep province; yet his family now lives on the breadline.
NAKSAN Holding was seized by the Turkish government only several days after the coup attempt. The owners of the holding, Taner Nakıboğlu and Cahit Nakıboğlu were arrested by a Gaziantep court and put in pre-trial detention over alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has been taking over the private property of non-loyalist businesspeople without due process on unsubstantiated charges of terrorist links.
Nine hundred thirty-seven companies with TL 19,4 billion (about 3,5 billion euros) in equity and assets of TL 50 billion (about 9 billion euros) are under the control of the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), according to Muhiddin Gülal, chairman of the TMSF.
Speaking at a press conference held to discuss the financial status of the Aydınlı Group, which was also seized by the Turkish government over its alleged links to the Gülen movement, Gülal stated that they are approaching these seized companies, which employ 47,031 workers, as national assets.
According to a statement issued by Turkey’s General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre in July 2018, 4,583 properties had been transferred to the Treasury as of July 9, 2018, and 2,117 properties were transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations. In total 6,700 properties that used to belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transferred to public institutions.
In addition, investigations carried out by the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre into 348,151 properties are still underway. According to the statement, investigations of 121,696 properties were launched following requests from administrative authorities and probes of 226,455 properties were launched upon the request of judicial authorities.
According to a survey conducted by Brussels-based The Arrested Lawyers Initiative in June 2018, the Turkish government has transferred some TL 49,4 billion ($11 billion) in assets of 1,124 companies seized for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement to a special fund under a crackdown that began following the July 2016 coup attempt.
The survey said that as of June 4, 2018 the TMSF controls 1,124 seized companies and also the personal assets of 127 individuals. Among the companies are Boydak Holding, which has 34 subsidiaries including the Bellona and İstikbal furniture makers and retailers, with 1,240 retail stores. Boydak employs 14,000 people and indirectly creates 110,000 jobs, the survey said.
The other major Turkish companies that were cited in the survey as seized include Koza, Dumankaya, Akfa, Orkide, Sesli and Naksan
Turkey has seized the companies under presidential decrees, leaving their owners no judicial recourse. The proprietors are allegedly members of the Gülen movement. Trustees have been appointed to run the companies against their shareholders’ wishes.
The companies are active in all areas of business and trade including investment, mining, petrol distribution, automotive, auto-gas, energy, transportation, food, agriculture, home textiles, furniture, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, law and IT, said the survey.
The value of the assets seized does not include those of 127 individuals, 19 unions, 15 private universities, 49 hospitals, 145 foundations, 174 media outlets, 1,419 foundations and another 2,271 education companies, it said. The total value of all assets confiscated could total TL 100 billion, added the survey.
According to the survey, at the very beginning of a state of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 23, 2016 in the aftermath of the coup bid, 934 private schools, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 15 private universities, 16 unions, 104 foundations and 1,125 associations were dissolved and all their assets including real estate, bank accounts, intellectual property and other financial assets were transferred to the public treasury. As of June 4, at least 4,100 profit-oriented or nonprofit legal entities had been dissolved, and their assets were confiscated under decree-laws without any judicial process.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.