Turkish intelligence recruits EU retirees to spy on Greece

The Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) has built up a “network of retirees” to spy on Greek security and infrastructure facilities, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Kathimerini’s report focusses on Martin, a retired northern-European expat who says MİT coerced him into photographing a variety of sensitive locations on the Greek border island where he lived. The Greek newspaper based its report on an interview with Martin, and his testimony at a Greek court, where he was on trial for espionage.

Martin secured a lenient decision from the court due to his full cooperation. He now lives in Northern Europe, but Kathimerini reports the existence of a “network of retirees” that he left behind, “a spy team comprising older people from Northern Europe who had chosen to settle in the Aegean for its warmer climate.”

Martin was in Greece at a taverna when a Turkish man approached him and introduced himself as Mehmet, claiming they had met years before. Mehmet asked Martin to take some “touristy” photos for him, a request that he repeated three months later when they met in İzmır, Turkey.

But the third time they met, Mehmet told Martin that he wanted him to take pictures of Greek military vehicles, threatening to hurt the retiree and a Turkish man who he was in a romantic relationship with, if he did not comply.

This led Martin to a life as a spy, photographing targets assigned by MİT including military bases, the island’s airport, its power plant. He took photographs “almost on a daily basis” for a number of years before he was caught taking pictures of a military facility. When he was caught, Martin was earning 1,250 Euros monthly for taking the pictures.

Martin said he transmitted the photographs to MİT using software the organisation installed on his laptop, and reported that when he missed something in one of his shots, his contacts in Turkish intelligence would correct him using wording that implied numerous MİT agents on the island: “the agency’s photographer saw something different”.

Martin has moved back to northern Europe, but maintains his connection to Greece.