German officials deny receiving Gülen suspect list from Turkey - DW

German government sources have denied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement on a list of 136 individuals linked to terrorist organisations living in Germany, the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

On Monday morning Turkish news outlets reported statements made by Erdoğan as he returned from a visit to Germany, where they said he had handed the list over to German officials and requested legal action against the alleged terror suspects.

The 136 names on the list were of individuals with alleged links to the Gülen organisation, a religious movement made up of the followers of Islamist cleric Fethullah Gülen. The Turkish government says it was Gülenists embedded in the Turkish military who orchestrated the botched coup attempt in July 2016.

The German government officials contacted by Deutsche Welle, however, have denied that any list was received from Turkey and have categorically ruled out that any requests were made for legal action against or extradition of individuals in Germany.

The German sources said they attributed Erdoğan’s statements to confusion experienced under Turkey’s new presidential system, which was inaugurated in July this year.

“We believe the list mentioned by President Erdoğan has been discussed as a result of false or incomplete briefings that have arisen due to this confusion,” Deutsche Welle quoted the sources as saying.

Besides the purge and arrests of thousands of alleged Gülenists since the coup attempt, the Turkish government has used its diplomatic clout and intelligence services to pursue suspected followers of the organisation overseas.

The Turkish government’s international operations against Gülenists have seen schools associated with the movement shut down in countries across the world, and the capture or extradition of dozens of its alleged members.

During his visit, Erdoğan also reportedly made a separate request to his German hosts to return Can Dündar, a Turkish journalist living in Germany who received a five-year prison sentence in Turkey after being accused of spying by the Turkish government.

The Turkish secularist daily Cumhuriyet published pictures purportedly showing Turkish trucks sent by the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) to carry weapons to Syrian rebel groups while Dündar was its chief editor.

The German officials told Deutsche Welle that Germany considered Turkey’s legal action against Dündar to be politically motivated and said the Turkish side “well knew” they would make no moves to extradite the journalist.