Turkey accuses Germany of supporting alleged ‘terrorist group’ behind coup attempt

Turkey's President Erdogan (left) and influential cleric Fethullah Gulen were close allies until the graft scandal in 2013.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin accused Germany of supporting what he called, “a terrorist group”, which Ankara alleges plotted last year’s coup attempt.

The comments on Sunday come following an interview published in German Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday, in which the President of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey had not provided any convincing evidence that the Islamist Gulenist Movement was behind the coup.

“Turkey tried to convince us on different levels. They haven’t succeeded yet,” he said.

Kalin dismissed the intelligence chief’s claim saying, “It’s an effort to invalidate all the information we have given them on FETO. It’s a sign of their support for FETO,” he said, using the acronym Turkey uses for the group.

The spokesperson also accused Germany of instrumentalising the group, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan and the Turkish government, against Turkey.

Gulen has denied involvement in the coup attempt, which resulted in the death of at least 240 people on 15 July last year, and condemned it.

In his interview Kahl accused Ankara of using the coup attempt as a pretext to purge all opposition. More than 100,000 have been dismissed from their positions in the judiciary, military and academia, while more than 150 journalists are languishing in jail.

Germany has also charged the Turkish government with employing clerics in Germany to spy on suspected Gulen sympathisers. Several clerics appointed by Turkey’s Ministry of Religious Affairs were withdrawn from Germany following the espionage scandal.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara further deteriorated with the arrest of Die Welt Turkey correspondent Deniz Yucel and the banning of pro-government rallies by Turkish ministers ahead of the country’s constitutional referendum in April.

In response to Europe’s “injustices” President Erdogan has called on “his brothers and sisters in Europe”, saying: “Have not just three but five children. The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it.

“Open more businesses, enrol your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighbourhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses.”

The comments have angered German nationalists, who responded by calling for an end to dual citizenship, the BBC reported.