Turkish intelligence on rise with informants' app introduced in Germany - German intelligence

Turkish intelligence activities are on the rise in Germany, where an app developed by Turkish security is being used to track dissident exiles and mid-sized companies, Germany’s domestic spy agency has said in an annual report.

An increase in intelligence activities from Turkey, China, Iran and Russia have been detected over the past year in Germany, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said in its 2018 report for the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg.

The rise in Turkish activity has been especially apparent since a failed coup attempt in July, 2016, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle said, quoting the report.

Turkish intelligence activities have focused on tracking suspected members and sympathisers of the Gülen movement, which Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government blames for the failed putsch.

They have also concentrated on those linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984 and which resumed conflict with Turkish security forces after peace talks broke down in 2015.

Turkey’s General Directorate of Security (EGM) has developed an app that Turks in Germany can use to inform on people suspected of links to these and other organisations outlawed in Turkey, the report said.

Those marked out to Turkish security do not usually become aware they are under surveillance until they return to Turkey, it added.

Over 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, with around 508,000 of these residing in Baden-Württemberg.

The report listed associations linked to the Turkish German community, a broad range of political groups from the radical leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front to right-wing Turkish nationalist groups.

These also included religious foundations and groups, notably the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), which oversees hundreds of mosques and religious associations in Germany and is widely believed to be closely tied to the Turkish state.

“They (DİTİB) were known to be engaged in intelligence activity and to send the information they gathered to Turkish authorities,” former German intelligence chief Hans Georg Maasen told German news outlet Focus Online in May.

The report also mentioned the Union of International Democrats, an AKP-linked organisation that it said was having a rising influence on German Turks.