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Ankara suspects German intel using Gülen network

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In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Bruno Kahl, the chief of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, said on March 18 that the Turkish government had “failed to convince” them that the U.S.-based Islamist cleric Fethullah Gülen was behind the coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

He said the BND did not think that the coup attempt was something staged by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government either, without elaborating who else might be behind it.

Kahl described the Gülen “movement” as a “civil association that aims to provide further religious and secular education” despite the Turkish government (and also the opposition) designation of it as a secret “terrorist” network aimed at overthrowing the government by use of military means.

In an interview with Kanal 7, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık responded to those words on March 19, saying: “He [Kahl] must be both blind and deaf for not being able to see the [Gülenist] role. That brings questions to mind as to whether [the BND] was cooperating [with Gülenists] and whether they had a part in [the coup attempt].”

İbrahim Kalın, President Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman, said in an interview with CNN Türk that Kahl’s statement showed that the German administration was “backing” the Fethullahists in the search for “instruments” it was “planning to use against” Turkey. “A lot of members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization [FETÖ] who are wanted in Turkey are now in Germany already,” he added.

The incident has added to a pile of problems between the two NATO allies, but relations go deeper than that, with around 3 million Turkish-origin people living in Germany.

Turkey on March 19 issued a strong note to the German Embassy in Ankara, protesting that German authorities permitted a number of associations to rally in Frankfurt on March 18 with flags and banners supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Erdoğan said on March 19 that it was a move in support of terrorism, especially after Germany refused to permit speeches by Turkish cabinet members in Germany in support of the “yes” campaign for the constitutional referendum on April 16 for a shift to an executive presidential system.

A Turkish-origin Germanjournalist working for Die Welt, Deniz Yücel, is under arrest in Istanbul on charges of working for the PKK in Turkey. Erdoğan again denounced him as a “terrorist agent” suspect yesterday.

During a joint press conference with Erdoğan in Turkey on Feb. 2, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly complained that the Turkish semi-official religious teaching network DİTİB in Germany was carrying out espionage activities among the Turkish community there. DİTİB is accused by German intelligence services of filing information against the Gülenist network among the Turkish communities in Germany and passing it on to Turkish security services.

There are 40 Turkish military officers, most of........

© Hürriyet Daily News