Critics say that the Turkish regime has begun to practice new tactics against its opponents abroad. Turkish diplomats at the Ankara embassy, and other diplomatic bodies in the U S, have extensively spied on opponents and critics of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Stockholm-based Nordic Monitor website, which specialises in Turkish affairs, said it had obtained secret documents proving the heavy involvement of Turkish diplomats in spy activities on American soil.
It explained that the documents, which are official correspondence issued by the Turkish Embassy in Washington and other consulates in American cities, were addressed to the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara.
According to the information in these documents, the diplomats collected data on the activities of Erdogan's critics, and provided a list of their names and the organisations they work for, as if they were part of criminal entities.
Among the organisations that were spied on by Turkish diplomats are schools, companies, nongovernmental and not-for-profit organisations and foundations, located in New York, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Chicago. They are believed to be run by people who are major critics of the government in Turkey, Nordic Monitor said.
A school in New Jersey was also spied on, and Turkish diplomats gave information about the school's activities and participation in a federal competition. Turkish diplomats gathered information about the general directors of these schools, listing their political campaign contributions.
The website explained that these documents represent the behaviour of the Turkish regime through diplomatic representations in many countries around the world to spy on opponents.
Singled Out For Being Spied On
The people and organisations spied on by the diplomatic missions are believed to belong to a civilian group led by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish regime accused of masterminding the alleged coup attempt in July 2016, and who has become a strong critic of Erdogan for rampant corruption in the government and over secrecy of the Turkish regime, in addition to government allegations over supporting terrorist groups like Isis and al-Qaeda, the website reported.
This is not the first time such facts have been revealed. In June, Nordic Monitor revealed that Erdogan was following his critics in Georgia by appointing security officers at the Turkish embassy there, under cover of diplomatic action.
In addition, the website said that Switzerland had opened an investigation and issued arrest warrants for two diplomats of the Turkish embassy, after they were involved in the attempted kidnapping of a Swiss businessman of Turkish origin known for criticising Erdogan.
For his part, US Senator Ron Wyden in May expressed concern for the safety of Portland Trail Blazers player, Enes Kanter. He is a fierce critic of Erdogan, calling him the “Hitler of our Century.”
The Turkish authorities in turn have accused Kanter of having links with an armed group behind the failed coup. Last year, Kanter missed a trip to London with his then team, the New York Knicks, saying he feared he could be “killed by Turkish spies,” the Guardian reported.
The website stated that the order to spy on Gulen-affiliated people and organisations came in early 2014, and volunteers of the movement were targeted with criminal prosecutions on fabricated charges of terrorism.
Moreover, the Turkish Embassy's memos from the embassy and various consulates in American cities were among the documents of the Foreign Ministry, that were later sent to Turkish police to build a case against critics of the Erdogan regime.
The targets, included in these embassy documents, were often intimidated, harassed and denied consular services abroad, while their relatives and friends returning to Turkey risked imprisonment, seizure of assets and persecution on trumped-up criminal charges, according to the website.
The report, that included Foreign Ministry intelligence documents, was used in several indictments in what was seen as a blatant abuse of the criminal justice system by the Turkish regime, as part of the crackdown on critics, opponents and dissidents who had nothing to do with terrorism.
Some defendants were imprisoned for several months, and even years in some cases without charge, indictment or trial. This also shows how the collection of illegal information was combined by the Turkish Embassy in the mass persecution of critics in Turkey.
According to the Nordic Monitor, Erdogan staged a false flag coup in mid-July 2016, to set up the opposition, including Gulen's movement, for mass persecution, pushed the army to invade northern Syria, and declared himself the imperial president of the new Turkey.
In March, Turkey revealed that the authorities had detained more than half a million people since the failed coup attempt.