Documents obtained by Nordic Monitor show that the Turkish Embassy in The Gambia profiled Turkish citizens who are opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and sent their private information to Ankara. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then shared the information with judicial authorities, resulting in trumped-up terrorism investigations into these people without any concrete evidence.
According to a December 12, 2018 decision by prosecutor Birol Tufan, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation (file no. 2018/43629) into three Turkish nationals who were on a list dispatched by Turkish diplomats.
Judicial documents expose how the Turkish Embassy in The Gambia triggered criminal investigations in Turkey. (The names and addresses of the Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):Gambiya edited
The profiling list was conveyed to the foreign ministry by İsmail Sefa Yüceer, the Turkish ambassador in Banjul between 2016 and 2020.
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.
Most recently educator Orhan İnandı, who was included in documents previously published by Nordic Monitor, was kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan on May 31, 2021 and illegally brought to Turkey by Turkish intelligence agency MIT. İnandı, who had lived in Kyrgyzstan for nearly 30 years, was arrested July 12, 2021 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
Turkish embassies are spying on Turkish citizens who have registered for consular services. Nordic Monitor 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. Similar work has apparently been done in other Turkish diplomatic missions at the request of the Security General Directorate (Emniyet), the main law enforcement agency in Turkey.
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 crime unit of the Ankara Police Department for further action. The police conveyed the results of its investigations to the public prosecutor.
Secret Turkish Foreign Ministry document confirming that Turkish embassies and consulates run a spy network around the world, profiling critics abroad:mfa1
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed systematic spying on Turkish government critics on foreign soil 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.”
It is clear that Turkish diplomatic missions violate the domestic laws of receiving states and the principles of international law by conducting unlawful information-gathering campaigns and sweeping intelligence operations. Erdoğan’s diplomats enjoy the privileges and immunities described in international conventions while systematically spying on critics of the president, collecting information on Turks living abroad and transmitting it to headquarters.