Plot to discredit Gülen makes its way into espionage indictment in Germany

Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu, a former aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.(Photo: Today's Zaman)
Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu, a former aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.(Photo: Today's Zaman)


Date posted: September 10, 2015

HİKMET AYDIN / MEHMET ÖZCAN

Wiretapped phone conversations among three Turkish suspects that were included in an indictment prepared by the federal attorney-general of Germany against them over charges of espionage have revealed that the suspects plotted a plan to defame the renowned Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The first hearing in the trial of the three Turks began at the Koblenz High Court in Germany on Wednesday.

A former aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu, 59, is one of the three Turks, along with Ahmet Duran Y. and German national Göksel G., who were arrested in Germany in December over suspicion of espionage. In May, the federal attorney-general of Germany filed charges against the trio for spying for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

The indictment, which includes wiretapped phone conversations among the suspects, shows that they sought to discredit Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US, claiming that “he abused a child at a Quran course he was teaching years ago.” In the conversations, the suspects say such a claim would “echo very much.”

Gülen, who is internationally acclaimed for his promotion of interfaith dialogue, tolerance and educational activities, was serving as a preacher and an imam before he moved to the US in 1999. He became a target of Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government following the eruption of a corruption scandal which implicated Erdoğan’s inner circle in late 2013.

Erdoğan has accused the Gülen movement, inspired by Gülen, of operating a “parallel structure” of supporters in the judiciary, police, media and other institutions that have operated against him, while the movement denies the charge.

Turkish spies in Germany are said to have been ordered to spy on Erdoğan’s opponents in Germany, including members of the Kurdish minority, the faith-based Gülen movement and other Turkish nationals in Germany who were critical of the Turkish leadership.

According to court documents, the goal of the espionage group was to track and spy on Turkish and Kurdish dissidents who were then to be detained upon their return to Turkey.

Gergerlioğlu was reportedly sent, in 2011, by MİT head Hakan Fidan with a fund of 25,000 euros to launch a consulting company for German-Turkish companies in the city of Bad Dürkheim with Göksel G.

Gergerlioğlu reportedly ran the other defendants as agents. The three reportedly collected information on people of Turkish origin living in Germany who were critical of the Turkish government.

The indictment against Gergerlioğlu and the other suspects states that they engaged in acts of espionage for MİT. Ahmet Duran Y. and Göksel G. were charged with collecting information about dissidents opposing Erdoğan in Germany on the command of Gergerlioğlu.

The suspects are facing a prison sentence of up to five years, according to German laws.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the three suspects were in attendance and the trial attracted much attention from the Turkish and German media.

Vice consul at the Turkish Consulate General in Mainz, Ali Erbaş, and Gergerlioğlu’s brother, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who is the former chairman of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), also attended the hearing at the Koblenz High Court.

The trial of the suspects is expected to be concluded at the end of 25 hearings.

Speaking to reporters in the courtroom, Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu denied the charges directed at him and said the indictment of the trial is based on speculation and gossip.

When asked whether any Turkish government official had contacted him, Gergerlioğlu said AK Party deputy Metin Külünk had sent his greetings to him via Vice Consul Erbaş, adding that two Turkish consuls general in Frankfurt and Frankenthal had paid him a visit in prison.

Source: Today's Zaman , September 09, 2015


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