The Turkish government used its diplomats in Mozambique to profile opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gather intelligence about them to help forge a criminal case against its critics in Turkey.
Judicial documents have confirmed that 23 Turkish nationals had been profiled by Turkish diplomats and reported to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. The information was later used in a criminal indictment for a charge of terrorism by a Turkish prosecutor.
According to a December 18, 2018 decision by prosecutor Adem Akıncı, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation (file no. 2018/43629 ) into Turkish nationals who were listed in files dispatched by Turkish diplomats without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. According to the documents they were charged with “membership in a terrorist group” by Akıncı.
Judicial document dated December 18, 2018 reveals spying on critics by Turkish diplomatic missions. (The addresses and names of the Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):
The profiling documents were sent to Ankara by Zeynep Kızıltan, the Turkish ambassador to Mozambique between 2016 and 2021.
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.
In 2018 a request by the Turkish government to arrest and extradite an education volunteer affiliated with Hizmet movement, named on the above list sent by the embassy to Ankara, was denied by authorities in Mozambique. According to Turkish government documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, démarches delivered by the Turkish ambassador in Maputo for the deportation of Mehmet Ali Çoban, a prominent businessman living in Mozambique, were rejected by the Mozambican INTERPOL service.maputo1_Redacted
Çoban was accused by the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of supporting the Willow International School in Mozambique, considered by many to be the most prestigious secondary school in the country. In fact, he made a donation for the construction of a new school building, the opening ceremony of which was attended by national and local politicians, high-level officials and diplomats in 2011.
Nordic Monitor previously published a communiqué dated September 16, 2016 that then-Turkish Ambassador to Mozambique Aylin Taşhan, the first envoy of Turkey in the country, dispatched to headquarters in Ankara that included information collected unlawfully by employees of the Turkish Embassy. The intelligence cable included the names and identities of critics of President Erdoğan as well as institutions and organizations set up by these people.
Secret Turkish Foreign Ministry document that reveals extensive spying activities in Mozambique:Mozambique_espionage_by_Turkey-1
The people who were spied on are believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, a group that is critical of the Turkish government for a number of reasons, from rampant corruption in the administration to Erdoğan’s aiding and abetting of armed jihadist groups in other countries.
The document, dated September 16, 2016, listed the names of 32 individuals as well the Willow International School. Several firms run by Turks such as DECO Construction Limitada, Turkmall Limitada, Isparta Construction Limitada, Ilhas da Paz and others were also profiled in the intelligence document.