Germany probes 20 for 'spying' for Turkey

A total of 20 Turkish citizens are facing an investigation on charges of spying on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a report in the German Die Welt daily on Thursday.

Turks living in the Netherlands have begun voting in a referendum that could give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power.

Tensions have been running high among the country's sizable Turkish community since an abortive coup against Erdogan in July a year ago, with complaints of intimidation against both pro- and anti-Erdogan supporters.

News of the latest dossier provided by Ankara to Berlin comes amid growing concern about possible Turkish espionage against Germany's large ethnic Turkish diaspora.

German police in February raided the apartments of four imams suspected of spying on followers of Gülen on behalf of the Turkish government. Usually, the Turkish agency Diyanet trains, funds and supplies imams for hundreds of mosques across all Germany, who formally remain Turkish government employees. More than 41,000 people in Turkey have been arrested over suspected links to Gulen's movement.

Tensions are running high between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies ahead of a referendum in Turkey next month that proposes expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

German media reported earlier in March that Federal Prosecutor's Office (GBA) had launched a probe into suspected spying by Turkey, specifically targeting Halife Keskin, head of foreign relations with Diyanet.

The referendum sparked a bitter row when Germany and The Netherlands blocked campaign events by Turkish ministers last month, leading a furious Erdogan to accuse both countries of using "Nazi" methods.

  • Leroy Wright