A German court has handed down a nine-month suspended sentence to a taxi driver who is accused of spying on Turkish dissidents in Germany for Turkey’s intelligence service, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Thursday.
A German citizen of Turkish descent, who is identified as Aziz A. and was working as a taxi driver in Cologne, was accused of collaborating with a Turkish man recently convicted of spying on dissidents for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in addition to facing weapons charges.
Aziz A. was given a suspended sentence of nine months by the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf on Thursday, according to DW.
“I just wanted to help my country. I didn’t want any problems. I was unaware of the consequences,” the defendant said in his statement at the hearing.
Aziz A., who has confessed to engaging in espionage in the past, will not exercise his right to appeal, DW said.
The prosecutors said in the indictment that Aziz A. gave Ali D., a Turkish man who was convicted of spying for MİT in June, the names of two German citizens he saw as supporters of the faith-based Gülen movement in Germany and conveyed detailed information to him on one of them.
They also alleged that Aziz A. went to target practice at a shooting range together with Ali D. and sold him ammunition.
Ali D. was arrested in a Düsseldorf hotel on Sept. 17, 2021 after an employee alerted the police to having seen a gun and ammunition in his room. Lists of names of some Gülen movement followers and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were also seized in his hotel room that included additional information on each person, according to a Der Spiegel report at the time. He was sentenced to a year and nine months in prison in June.
The PKK is an armed group listed by Turkey and much of the international community as a terrorist organization.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a 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 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.