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German police raid homes of Turkish imams suspected of spying

German police raid homes of Turkish imams suspected of spying

German police on Wednesday raided the homes of four Turkish Muslim preachers suspected of spying for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government on the movement he blames for last year’s coup attempt. The imams, who were not named, are accused of reporting on Turkish followers of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accuses of having orchestrated July’s failed putsch against him. The four religious leaders allegedly passed on information through the Turkish consulate in the western city of Cologne to the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate, known as Diyanet, prosecutors said.

Police made no arrests but confiscated written material and data storage devices, said Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecution service. News site Spiegel online reported that the imams belong to Ditib, an organisation controlled by Ankara that manages some 900 mosques or religious communities in Germany.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas charged that “the influence of the Turkish state on Ditib is too strong” and demanded the organisation immediately move to clear up the accusations against it. In Austria, the interior ministry also said it was looking into charges that its Ditib counterpart Atib was “involved in the surveillance of supporters of the Gulen movement as well as Kurds, opponents and journalists”.

Published in Dawn February 16th, 2017

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