Turkish man accused of spying for Erdoğan expelled from Austria

A Turkish man charged with espionage on behalf of a foreign state, who claimed he was ordered to assassinate Austrian politicians, has been expelled from Austria.

Feyyaz Öztürk, an Italian citizen of Turkish origin, turned himself in to Austrian intelligence services last year, claiming that the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT), Turkey’s spy agency, blackmailed him to assassinate a former parliamentarian of Kurdish origin, Berivan Aslan, and two other politicians. The three people were longstanding critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his treatment of Turkey’s Kurds. 

The Austrian authorities concluded that Öztürk was an impending danger to public security and decided to deport him, Öztürk’s lawyer Veronika Ujvarosi said, Agence France Presse reported on Tuesday.

“As Öztürk could no longer be held in pre-trial detention, he was taken to the Italian border before Christmas, but he would like to return to Austria so that he can attend his trial,” Ujvarosi said.

Öztürk faces up to two years in jail should he be convicted of the charges against him. His trial is scheduled for Feb. 4., according to AFP.

Aslan continues to be under police protection, the news agency said.

Öztürk said that Aslan was to be assassinated in March, but the operation never went ahead because he broke his leg in an accident while in Italy, the Daily Mail reported in December.

The planned attack was part of a larger operation to “spread chaos” and intimidate, rather than inflict harm on or kill Aslan and other politicians, Öztürk added.  

Turkey has denied the claims made by Öztürk.