Mar 27 2018

Dutch diplomat leaves Turkey following espionage accusation

A Dutch diplomat has left Turkey after the country’s pro-government media accused him of forging documents and spreading false information, pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah said.

On Sunday Daily Sabah’s sister-paper Sabah accused the diplomat, identified by the initials A.Z., of being assigned by his country to gather information about Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Afrin and of creating false information to suggest a relationship between the Turkish government and the Islamic State (ISIS).

He also “participated in meetings held by opposition groups in Turkey, introducing himself as an employee of the Dutch Defense Ministry,” the paper said.

On Monday he was briefly arrested before being released, and Turkish authorities allowed him to leave the country.

Daily Sabah lists a litany of recent disagreements between the two nations beginning from the refusal of the Dutch government to allow Turkish ministers to campaign for a yes vote in a referendum on the creation of a strong presidential system of government in April 2017.

The Dutch ambassador at the time was outside Turkey, and after around a year of negotiations for his reinstatement the Dutch Foreign Ministry formally cut ambassadorial ties with Turkey in February.

The Dutch parliament also voted to recognise the Armenian genocide in the same month, Daily Sabah said.

“The Netherlands, which accuses (Turkish) Religious Affairs Directorate imams of espionage, has been caught red-handed in espionage activity in Turkey,” Sabah added.