The German Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into whether Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has been spying on suspected supporters of the Gülen movement in Germany.
Speaking in Passau in southern Germany on Tuesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said in a report by Reuters that Turkey will not be allowed to spy on Turks living in Germany.
De Maizière said it was a “criminal offense” to carry out espionage activities on German soil and that they “will not be tolerated by us.”
“That applies to all foreign states and all intelligence services,” he added.
“We have repeatedly told Turkey that something like this is unacceptable. No matter what position someone may have on the Gülen movement, here German jurisdiction applies and citizens will not be spied on by foreign countries,” he said.
According to reports in the German media, the head of Turkey’s MİT, Hakan Fidan, handed Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), a list of 300 individuals and 200 organizations allegedly linked to the Gülen movement at a security conference in Munich in February, aiming to persuade German authorities to help Turkey.
However, German authorities have informed Turks linked with the Gülen movement about MİT surveillance in Germany, home to 1.4 million voters eligible to vote in the referendum.
Commenting to BBC on the issue on Tuesday, Hans-Georg Maassen, Germany’s head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz), said, “Outside Turkey I don’t think anyone believes that the Gülen movement was behind the attempted putsch.”
“At any rate I don’t know anyone outside Turkey who has been convinced by the Turkish government,” he added.
Tensions rose between Turkey and Germany over operations against Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) imams who were claimed to be spying on Gülen movement people.
Last month the coordinator of DİTİB, Murat Kayman, announced his resignation over the charges.