Erdogan hits back at German spying claims

Turkish president's office says claims of spying on opponents in Germany are 'baseless'

Erdogan hits back at German spying claims

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday hit back at claims in a German magazine that Turkish intelligence spied on dissidents in Germany.

In a statement, the president’s office dismissed allegations in Focus news magazine earlier this month that a spy ring run by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) monitored Kurdish and leftist opponents as well as supporters of Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of seeking to overthrow the Turkish state.

These activists were then earmarked for arrest on their return to Turkey, the magazine claimed.

Two Turkish nationals and a German Turk are on trial for espionage and the magazine claimed the group’s alleged leader, Taha Gergerlioglu, was close to Erdogan.

The statement denied that the “person about who the story was built” had any official role or “closeness or relationship” with the president.

“Instead of sharing our disclaimer with its readers, the magazine repeated its baseless claims with a new story,” the statement added, referring to a rebuttal sent to the magazine.

In a subsequent story about the trial in Karlsruhe, Focus claimed the Turkish government had tried to influence the judge when Turkish consul Serhat Aksen interrupted proceedings.

Erdogan’s office defended the consul’s actions, stating that, under international law, consular officials were entitled to observe legal proceedings against their country’s citizens.

The presidency accused the magazine of misleading its readers. “The presentation of baseless stories as news seriously harms the reliability of that media organ and we believe that Focus magazine will share our amendment to a story that severely breached the ethics of journalism,” the statement said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Temmuz 2015, 16:59