Documents obtained by Nordic Monitor show that the Turkish Embassy in Chile spied on Turkish citizens in the country and forwarded an illegal profiling list to Ankara, which led to the launch of groundless judicial procedures against them.
According to a December 13, 2018 decision by prosecutor Birol Tufan, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation (file no.2018/27632) into five Turkish nationals who were on the list dispatched by Turkish diplomats in Chile without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. They were charged with “membership in a terrorist group” by Tufan.
Judicial document dated December 13, 2018 reveals spying on critics.(The addresses and names of the Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):
The profiling documents may have been sent to Ankara by Naciye Gökçen Kara or Gülin Dinç, who were the Turkish ambassadors to Chile between 2013 and 2019.
It was also revealed in 2019 that the Turkish Embassy in Chile developed assets within the Socialist Party of Chile (Partido Socialista de Chile, or PS) to spy on critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to the official correspondence sent by the embassy in Santiago to headquarters in Ankara, Turkish diplomats asked some members of the National Congress from the PS to gather information on critics living in Chile. The document did not mention the names of the party members but referred to them in the plural, meaning that more than one reported to the Turkish Embassy.
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.
Turkish embassies are also spying on the private and confidential information of citizens who have registered for consular services. Nordic Monitor previously published a Turkish foreign ministry communiqué, stamped secret, showing that the Turkish Embassy in Kosovo profiled 78 people who had listed their professions as teachers when they made applications with the consulate for various citizen services.
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 Adem 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.
According to judicial documents released by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on January 16, 2019, the foreign ministry compiled a long list of foreign entities that were owned and/or operated by people who were seen as close to the movement.
Moreover, Nordic Monitor revealed how MIT infiltrated refugee camps in Greece in order to spy on opponents who were forced to flee to Greece to escape an unprecedented crackdown in neighboring Turkey.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed systematic spying on Turkish government critics on foreign soil as by Turkish diplomatic missions in February, 2020. Çavuşoğlu said Turkish diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates have officially been instructed by the government to conduct such activities abroad. “If you look at the definition of a diplomat, it is clear. … Intelligence gathering is the duty of diplomats,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish journalists on February 16, 2020 following the Munich Security Conference, adding, “Intelligence gathering and information collection are a fact.”