In reaction to police raids in Germany on Turkish imams allegedly spying on Gülen movement sympathizers, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Thursday condemned the raids and accused Germany of failing to comply with the requirements of the rule of law.
Bozdağ claimed in a written statement that despite “abundant evidence against the Gülen movement, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] and extreme leftist terrorist organization the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front [DHKP/C], Germany easily gives credit to the arguments of terrorist organizations that are working against Turkey.”
According to Bozdağ, the police raids targeting apartments of imams from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) contravene the German constitution and international agreements. Bozdağ added that DİTİB was founded under German law.
German police teams on Wednesday morning raided the apartments of four 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.
Turkey has accused Germany of harboring militants from the PKK and far-leftists of the DHKP/C, which has carried out attacks in Turkey. German officials reject the accusation.