The Office of the Federal Prosecutor of Germany has launched an investigation into Halife Keskin, the foreign relations general manager of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), over his order to Turkey’s diplomatic missions to gather information on people sympathetic to the Gülen movement, Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.
According to the report, the federal prosecutor’s office has a document that includes Keskin’s order. The document was given to the prosecutor’s office by a person on the staff of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB).
It was also reported that Keskin gave similar orders to imams in Germany to gather information about sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen. The investigation was launched in March 13.
Tensions rose between Turkey and Germany over operations against DİTİB’s 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.
It was also leaked to the public that not only imams but also members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) have been surveilling members of the Gülen movement in Germany.
Last week the German Interior Ministry launched an investigation into whether 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 an upcoming referendum in Turkey.
Commenting to BBC on the issue on Tuesday, Hans-Georg Maassen, the 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.
In the meantime, Michelle Müntefering, a Social Democratic Party member in the German parliament, criticized the government not informing him that his name was on MİT’s list of Gülen movement sympathizers. Underlining that he learned of the situation on Monday, Müntefering said, “I would like to see that our institutions are more sensitive.”