Amid tensions between Turkey and Germany over spying imams, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Metin Külünk urged prosecutors to investigate possible spying activities of German foundations and archeologists in Turkey.
Külünk told reporters after police raided the houses of Turkish imams on Wednesday on spying allegations that Turkish officials should act to detect any spying activity by Germany inside Turkey.
“Are German foundations and archeologists in Turkey conducting spying activities on behalf of Germany?” Külünk asked, accusing Germany of stealing Anatolia’s heritage and displaying it in German museums.
He called on prosecutors to investigate these questions as Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also accused Germany of turning a blind eye to Turkey’s enemies.
According to Külünk, Germany’s goal is to disconnect Turkish civil society organizations from Turkey by targeting imams. Although the imams admitted illegally profiling Gülen movement sympathizers in particular, Külünk called the allegations “thin” against the Turkish civil servants.
German police teams on Wednesday morning raided the apartments of four the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who are suspected of acting as informants on sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement.
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 Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate that asked Turkish missions and religious representatives abroad to profile Gülen movement expatriates living in their respective countries.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the four imams were members of DİTİB.
“It is very clear that the influence of the Turkish state on DİTİB is big. The association must plausibly disengage itself from Ankara,” Maas said in a statement.
Bozdağ was also critical of his counterpart’s remarks, labeling them as an intrusion of due process.
The GBA said Wednesday’s searches were aimed at finding more evidence to link the suspects to espionage activities.
“The suspects are suspected of having collected information about members of the so-called Gülen movement and passed it on to the general consulate in Cologne,” the GBA said.
Last month the GBA launched an investigation into Turkish intelligence operations on German soil after a lawmaker filed a criminal complaint. Austria is also investigating whether Turkey has been operating an informer network targeting Gülen followers on its soil, via its embassy in Vienna.