Erdogan's Power Play

Turkish Spies Test German Patience

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany needs Turkey as a partner to stem the flow of refugees to Europe but must draw the line on espionage activities and Nazi references.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Turkish spy agents have identified hundreds of alleged supporters of the exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen in Germany.
    • They have also reportedly tried to sign up the German secret service as collaborators.
    • The clashes with German politicians come ahead of a referendum next month in Turkey that proposes to significantly expand presidential powers.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Source: Yasin Bulbul/Pool Presidential Press Service/AP/dpa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s long and grasping arm has extended to Germany, but probably not with the result he would have liked.

Turkish spy agents have identified hundreds of alleged supporters in Germany of the exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused by the president of orchestrating the failed military coup last July. Not only have Turkish intelligence agents been spying on their own countrymen in Germany; they have also tried to sign up the German secret service as collaborators, according to information obtained by two German public broadcasters and the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, Hakan Fidan, head of Turkey’s national intelligence agency MIT, handed his German counterpart Bruno Kahl a list of more than 300 people and 200 various clubs, schools and other institutions with alleged links to Mr. Gülen, according to the media report.

Mr. Fidan hoped the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, would provide assistance. But the opposite has happened.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.