Turkey ‘significantly’ stepping up spying in Germany – Berlin

Turkish intelligence has “significantly’ increased its activities in Germany amid the ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries ahead of April’s referendum on widening the Turkish president’s powers, Germany’s domestic intelligence service says.

Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency has noticed “a significant increase in Turkish intelligence activities in Germany,” it said in a statement on its website.

Tensions between the members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) outlawed in Turkey and far-right extremists are increasing and are “mirrored in Germany,” the statement also noted.

“We have long seen that the conflicts in Turkey also have an impact on the security situation in Germany,” it said.

“There is a risk that these disputes between PKK supporters and right-wing extremists will escalate, since there is a high, powerful danger potential on both sides,” Hans-Georg Maassen, Bfv President, explained.

In January, Maassen said that Germany was very concerned over the situation in Turkey and operations against the Germany-based Turks or Germans with a Turkish migration background. The comment came after an investigation into possible spying by Turkish clerics was launched in Germany.

“We cannot accept that intelligence agencies are operating in Germany against German interests, and that is why we protest,” Maassen said at the time, adding that Germany will not tolerate Turkish intelligence agencies’ activity within its borders.

The relations between Germany and Turkey have been strained since German authorities canceled a number of rallies in support of the upcoming April referendum in Turkey that may dramatically increase presidential powers.

On March, 7, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Germany of trying to influence Germany-based Turks to vote “no” by cancelling a meeting with Turkish officials campaigning for a “yes” vote.

“This is systematic obstruction, and Germany is applying systematic pressure on our citizens. This is unacceptable. We always want to see Germany as a friend but Germany's systematic anti-Turkey approach does not suit our friendship,” Cavusoglu said, addressing Turks at the residence of the Turkish Consulate General in Hamburg, Cumhuriyet reported.

Earlier, Cavusoglu said Germany was continuing to follow a policy of double standards against Turkey. The comment came after the southern German town of Gaggenau canceled a visit by Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, who was planning to give a speech in support of the referendum. A number of other German cities, including Cologne and the small town of Frenchen, canceled similar rallies with Turkish government figures.

At the same time, Germany allows members of the PKK to hold meetings.