Turkish media glossing over intelligence's assassination plan, Kurdish-Austrian politician says
(Updates with Aslan's comments to Ahval)
Berivan Aslan, a Kurdish-Austrian politician and a member of Austria’s Green Party, said on Thursday that Turkish pro-government media and circles are trying to gloss over intelligence's plans to assassinate her.
"The Turkish press and certain circles try to portray the incident as unfounded, but the assassination plan is real. I was personally informed about the plan by the Austrian intelligence. I have been under police protection for nine days," Aslan told Ahval in an exclusive interview.
Turkish man Feyyaz Ö., an operative working for Turkish national intelligence service MİT by his own admission, told Austrian authorities that he had been ordered in August to kill Aslan.
Aslan, as a politician focusing on minorities in Austria, had revealed a network of MİT agents in Austrian capital Vienna and several other provinces tasked with creating unrest among Turkish and Kurdish communities in the country.
Feyyaz Ö., who has Italian citizenship, told authorities that he had been surveilling Aslan for a while, and that he had booked a hotel room where he would wait for the politician, according to Etkin news agency (ETHA).
"This person went directly to intelligence, not to the police station. He gave his testimony in a self-confident way. He said everything was ready for the assassination. He does not know the reason for the assassination, but he said he was ordered to create chaos. He is told 'assassinate Berivan Aslan and convey the message'. It does not matter if I am hurt or killed. So he also has my death warrant in his hand," she said.
According to ETHA, Feyyaz Ö. was the secret witness who gave the testimony leading to U.S. consular worker Metin Topuz’s arrest over terrorism charges. During his interrogation at the Austrian intelligence and counter-terrorism unit, Feyyaz Ö. admitted to having given false testimony about Topuz, journalist and former member of the Austrian parliament Peter Pilz said in a report.
"The suspect says he got the information from Belgrade. He claims that he first got my name from a prosecutor in Turkey. He explains that the details of the assassination were reported to him in Belgrade this year. He is then told that he must go to Austria and wait for a phone call, and the contact will order the assassination," Aslan said.
"If I had committed this assassination, they would have criminally stigmatised me and would not have protected me'. In other words, he is also concerned about his own safety. He wants police protection from the Austrian state," she said.
Aslan also reminded the assassination of three Kurdish women, including a founding member of the outlawed militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in Paris in 2013.
"These people were people from organisations. I am not a member of such organisations. I did not anticipate that they would be able to undertake such an attack against independent opponents, to assassinate European politicians," she said.
"So the message is 'whoever you are, wherever you live, we are ready to find and kill you everywhere'."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said some 10,000 Turkish terrorists are allowed to move freely in Germany, a reference to the followers of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Turkish preacher that Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016, and Kurdish separatists linked to the PKK.
"I do not see this as a personal attack. I have become a target for defending the democratic rights of all people in Turkey. Regardless, this is an attempt to attack all dissidents in Europe. It is not a personal situation, it is a problem that affects us all," Aslan said.
In June, ultra-nationalist Turkish groups had targeted several rallies organised by Viennese Kurds. Turkey issued statements saying the Kurdish groups had ties to organisations designated a terrorist by both Turkey and the European Union.
On Sept. 1, Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced that the country had been preparing to bring charges against a person who confessed to spying for MİT. No details on the person had been provided at the time.
Austrian authorities are investigating the matter, Austrian Interior Ministry Spokesman Harald Sörös told reporters on Wednesday.
Regardless of anyone, the right to life should not be taken. No one should be so pressured, whatever their views. Defending freedom and rule of law, Europe must protect the rights of dissidents.
"Whatever happens next, no matter where we live in Europe, the European governments should bravely protect us. We are not the children of a huge orphanage", Aslan said.