Turkey forcing citizens in Switzerland to spy for Ankara – report

Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation emblem with a photo of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, (File Photo).

Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger, in a report on Sunday, claimed that Turkey’s Embassy in Bern, Switzerland had been turned into a “centre for recruiting spies”.

The German language newspaper, basing its report on the Swiss Federal Government’s yearly report, said the consulate was being used by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) to turn citizens into informants.

“The Turkish Consulate is not as tranquil as it seems,” the report stated, adding that citizens from Turkey were being forced into spying, especially following last year’s 15 July coup attempt. The report also emphasised that Swiss authorities were aware of the situation.

Turkish authorities have been under fire in Germany for using Muslim clerics in the country to spy on alleged members of the Gulenist Movement, which Ankara accuses of instigating the coup attempt; a charge the group denies. Several clerics were withdrawn from the country following a diplomatic crisis between Berlin and Ankara.

Agents working for the MIT have also allegedly sent death threats to Kurdish politicians in Germany. The latest incident involved Ismail Ozen, a vocal Kurdish activist  and Intercontinental Middleweight World Champion boxer, who claimed the MIT had tried to kill him in an incident last July.

An alleged MIT agent shot and killed three Kurdish women activists in Paris in January 2013. Despite incriminating evidence proving Omer Guney’s relations with the MIT, the trial of the suspect was postponed several times, and he died in prison in December 2016.