German authorities indicate Turkish espionage activities have increased in country

The number of investigations opened by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Germany into Turkish espionage activities increased from 14 in 2020 to 22 in 2021, Deutsche Welle's Turkish service reported on Jan. 4.

Duvar English

Answers provided by the German government to questions posed by the German Left Party indicate a rise in Turkish espionage activity in the European country, Deutsche Welle's Turkish service reported on Jan. 4. 

Germany has long been a destination for persecuted political dissidents from Turkey. Exiled journalist Can Dundar resides in the country, as does rapper Ezhel and writer Aslı Erdoğan, among many others. Many of these figures were targeted in the years following the coup attempt of July 2016. 

The years since the coup have also seen a rise in allegations of espionage activity in Germany by Turkey. Last October, a 40-year-old man was arrested in a luxury hotel in Düsseldorf for allegedly spying for Turkey. Authorities seized bullets and a list of names from the suspect’s hotel room and noted that there was a suspicious inflow of money to his account. Much of the espionage activity in the country is carried out by Turkey’s Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Further, last year, several writers, thinkers, and political dissidents in Germany received a warning from German authorities that their names were on an alleged “target” list including the names of critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Despite the rise in the number of such reports, the German government has remained fairly inactive on these investigations, reporting by Deutsche Welle showed. According to Left Party Deputy Sevim Dağdelen, only four of the investigations were pursued in 2020 and only six in 2021. In 2020, two cases resulted in non-prosecution and no lawsuit has, as of yet, been filed as a result of these investigations.

“It is clear that the federal government is not interested in destroying Erdogan's network in Germany," said Dağdelen. She is calling on Berlin to increase pressure on Ankara. 

As of Dec. 15, 2021, there are 54 German citizens in prison in Turkey. At the end of 2020, that number was 64.