Twelve days after the pro-government daily Star accused human rights defenders detained in Turkey of being linked to the US CIA intelligence agency and the UK’s MI6, another pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, on Sunday claimed that the rights activists had ties to the German BND intelligence service.
“Claims that German intel service BND financed the meeting in Büyükada in exchange for a report on Turkey have been under investigation,” said Yeni Şafak in a front page story.
On July 5 Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained İdil Eser from AI, İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmus Özbekli, Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association and two foreign trainers, Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner.
One of the staunchly pro-government dailies in Turkey, Star, claimed on July 11 that the CIA and MI6 were behind the meeting.
Star’s report was based on statements by ruling Justice and Development Party Erzurum deputy Orhan Deligöz, who accused the human rights activists of planning to divide Turkey, during four meetings at the same hotel after a failed coup attempt last July.
“The last meeting was held in an illegal and secret room in the back part of the hotel with the attendance of nine Turks and two foreigners, 11 people in total. We know that these meetings were controlled and guided by CIA and MI6 agents,” said Deligöz.
According to the report, the human rights defenders were found discussing a Turkish map when they were detained and were planning a second “Gezi protest,” which was sparked in the summer of 2013 in protest of government plans to demolish Gezi Park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood, after the completion of a “March of Justice” by the chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who walked from Ankara to İstanbul to protest the arrest of a CHP deputy.
Another staunchly pro-government daily, Güneş, said on July 21 that the human rights activists were plotting a coup attempt when they were detained by Turkish police.
Güneş’s report claimed that a coalition of leftist parties such as the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the CHP, terrorist organizations and some large companies and media organizations were going to plot a coup attempt during the human rights defenders’ meeting on Büyükada.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the recently detained human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt during a press conference in Hamburg on July 8 and signaled that the detention of the rights defenders could turn into imprisonment.