Turkey's spy agency 'targeting its citizens in Germany' as expatriates warned of possible reprisals if they return

Melanie Hall
Turkish citizens line up outside the Turkish consulate to cast their votes in the Turkish referendum in Berlin - Getty Images Europe

Hundreds of expatriate Turks living in Germany have reportedly been warned by German authorities that Turkey is spying on them – and that possible reprisals await them if they set foot on Turkish territory.

Turkey's spy agency has compiled a dossier of hundreds of alleged supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen who are living in Germany, which it then passed to Germany’s foreign intelligence chief, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The list contains names, addresses, telephone numbers and photos taken secretly using surveillance cameras, the newspaper reported. 

It identifies more than 300 people and 200 various clubs, schools, and other institutions with alleged links to Gülen – who lives in the USA and who the Turkish government claims led an unsuccessful military coup attempt in Turkey last July.

Profile | Fethullah Gülen

Bruno Kahl, head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Agency, was handed the list last month by his Turkish counterpart at the Munich Security Conference, apparently in the hope that Germany would help in Turkey’s bid to target Gülen supporters, which it deems terrorists.

Instead, the list let authorities across the country warn those named in the dossier that Turkey is watching them.

Lower Saxony’s interior minister Boris Pistorius told the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "It is totally unacceptable that people are being investigated here, in some instances in the most private areas of their life.”

The state criminal office of North-Rhine Westphalia has gone further by warning those concerned that possible reprisals await them if they return to Turkish territory.

Turkey coups: A timeline

Germany’s security services have meanwhile started analysing the list to find out how Turkey’s intelligence agency was able to find out the personal details of those spied on. 

"We are horrified about how openly Turkey has revealed that it is spying on Turks living here,” sources in the German security services told the newspaper.

It follows revelations that Turkish imams spied on supposed Gülen supporters in Germany on behalf of Turkey’s government.

The latest details come as 1.4 million eligible Turkish voters living in Germany began casting their ballots in an April constitutional referendum that, if passed, would boost Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Critics say that it would effectively spell the end of democracy in Turkey and give Erdogan autocratic powers.

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