A Turkish national who was arrested in Germany last year on suspicion of spying on dissidents for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has admitted in court to spying on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.
The 41-year-old suspect, identified as Ali D., was arrested in a Düsseldorf hotel on Sept. 17 after an employee alerted the police to having seen a gun and bullets in his room. Lists of names of some Gülen movement followers and PKK members were also seized in Ali D.’s hotel room, which included additional information on each person, according to a Der Spiegel report at the time.
German prosecutors, who accuse Ali D. of collecting information on supporters of the Gülen movement and the PKK in order to pass it on to MİT, spying and weapons violations, said in the indictment that he had conveyed information on three German citizens –- one person he thought was a PKK member and two others he saw as Gülenists –- in addition to gathering information on three others.
The PKK is an armed group listed by Turkey as well as the EU and the United States as a terrorist organization.
The prosecutors also said Ali D. went to target practice at shooting ranges to find people who would help him in his spying activities and that he managed to convince one person to work as an informant.
At his first hearing in a Düsseldorf court, Ali D. entered a plea, admitting to accusations of spying.
Saying that he had gathered information on Gülenists but didn’t convey it to MİT, the accused added that he had bought a blank gun thinking it was legal to carry it but didn’t threaten anyone with it.
Referring to the bullets seized in his hotel room, Ali D. said he bought them elsewhere to use at the shooting range since they were sold at a much higher price there.
Before the hearing, it was announced that an agreement was reached between the accused and the court and that the accused agreed to confess the accusations in exchange for a suspended sentence.
Seven more hearings are scheduled to take place as part of the trial by the end of July, DW said.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Since 2016, Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people suspected to have links to the Gülen movement.
In order to avoid the government-led crackdown, thousands of Gülen followers have fled Turkey and taken refuge in European and other countries.
For years, Turkey has repeatedly urged the German authorities to take action against Gülen supporters who sought asylum in the country.