The Turkish diplomatic mission in Nigeria engaged in a campaign of intelligence gathering and collected information on the activities of critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, judicial documents have revealed.
The information collected by the Turkish Embassy was used in criminal indictments on charges of terrorism by a Turkish prosecutor. According to a December 24, 2018 decision by prosecutor Adem Akıncı, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation (file no. 2018/28545 ) into 12 Turkish nationals who were listed in espionage files dispatched by Turkish diplomats in Nigeria without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing
As a result of a massive purge, the Turkish judiciary, intelligence service, diplomatic missions abroad, and law enforcement authorities have become abusive tools in the hands of the Islamist government of President Erdoğan to prosecute critics, opponents and dissidents. The criminal justice system has often been abused by Erdoğan to persecute government critics, leading to the imprisonment of tens of thousands on false charges.
Judicial documents expose how the Turkish Embassy in Nigeria triggered criminal investigations in Turkey. (The names and addresses of the Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):
Profiling files were conveyed to the foreign ministry by Hakan Çakıl, the Turkish ambassador in Abuja between 2015 and 2018.
Nordic Monitor previously published official correspondence showing that Turkish diplomats also collected information on Nigerian organizations and listed their names as if they were part of a criminal enterprise. Among the organizations listed were Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC), one of the best-performing school networks in the country, with numerous awards in international science competitions. It has been operating in Nigeria since September 1998. NTIC has a total of 16 educational institutions located in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna, Yobe and Ogun states with a staff of over 1,000 and a student body of more than 4,000. NTIC has been named the top school by the National Mathematical Centre (NMC) and the Ministry of Education in math, physics, chemistry, biology and information communications technology (ICT). The Turkish Embassy note also profiled the Nizamiye Hospital, an Abuja-based state-of-the-art medical facility with an experienced medical staff including leading surgeons in their fields, with an emphasis on cardiac surgery.
Critics of the Erdoğan government abroad, especially members of the Hizmet/Gülen movement, have been facing surveillance, harassment, death threats and abduction since President Erdoğan decided to scapegoat the group for his own legal troubles. They have often been denied consular services such as power of attorney and birth registry as well as having their passports revoked. Their assets in Turkey are seized and their family members at home risk criminal charges.
Orhan İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing in Bishkek on May 31 evening and is feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement. İnandı was included in a similar profiling document that was sent to Ankara by the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek.
As previously disclosed by Nordic Monitor, the foreign ministry sent lists of profiled Turkish nationals in two CDs to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the national police and Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT on February 19, 2018 via an official document for further administrative or legal action, the punishment of their relatives back in Turkey and the seizure of their assets.
Public prosecutor Akıncı, who received the foreign ministry document on February 23, 2018, forwarded the classified CDs including information on 4,386 Erdoğan critics to the organized crimes unit of the Ankara Police Department for further action. The police conveyed the results of its investigations to the public prosecutor.
Akıncı, who led the investigation into the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in December 2016, was accused of suppressing the evidence that the killer had links to various jihadist groups including al-Qaeda and was radicalized by several pro-government imams, including two who worked for the government religious authority, the Diyanet. Nordic Monitor previously reported that several suspects told the court that Akıncı had forced them to testify during interrogation that the assassination was directed by the Gülen movement. They were later jailed after declining the prosecutor’s request to testify to that in court.