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Turkey steps up intelligence operations in Germany: report

An official report released by the State of Baden-Württemberg warned that a number of countries including Turkey have intensified their intelligence efforts in Germany, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Friday.

The “Constitution Protection Report” released by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) underlined that the foreign intelligence services of Turkey, China, Iran and Russia are attempting to exert influence over their former citizens and their companies based in Germany, especially targeting the opponents of their regimes.

In the section on Turkey, the report reminded that more than 3 million Turks live in Germany and that some half a million of them are based in Baden-Württemberg.

The report listed associations and religious structures that are linked to Turkey such as Milli Görüş, İrfan houses, the Felicity Party and the İsmail Ağa congregation.

The report also mentioned the presence of sympathizers of organizations from the extreme left such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) as well as right-wing organizations like the Grey Wolves, whose sympathizers according to the report amounted to a total of 4,535 in 2018.

The Turkish government in particular gave fresh impetus to its operations targeting PKK sympathizers and followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which it blames for an attempted coup in July 2016.

Turkey asked its citizens living abroad to report any suspected Gülenists to Turkey’s security units. A mobile app developed by Turkey’s police department allowed for expats to report suspects, and the people who are so reported often don’t become aware of the situation until they travel to Turkey.

The report also underlined that the Turkish government uses its affiliates and partners such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) and the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) to exert influence over Turkish groups, giving an example of how mosques affiliated with DİTİB staged children’s plays in support of Turkey’s January 2018 military offensive in northern Syria.

In 2017 DİTİB was the subject of a federal investigation in Germany after it was revealed that 19 of their imams, acting upon instructions from the Turkish government, were passing intelligence to Ankara on Gülen followers living in Germany.

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