Turkey arrests four over suspected espionage for France

Turkey has arrested four of its nationals on suspicion of spying for France on various religious and conservative groups in the country, pro-government Sabah newspaper reported Monday.

The suspects include Metin Özdemir, a former staff member of the French consulate's security service, who has admitted to police that he gathered intelligence for the French intelligence service, the DGSE, Sabah said. 

Presenting himself as a member of the Islamic State, Özdemir recruited three men, including a telecommunications worker, the manager of an Istanbul hotel and an employee of an Istanbul water company, İSKİ, it said. 

Together, they infiltrated conservative organisations in Istanbul’s Fatih, Bayrampaşa, Esenyurt, Zeytinburnu, Üsküdar, Ümraniye and Başakşehir districts and gathered information on the country’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Sabah said.

The report, which has not been confirmed by an independent source, arrives amid soaring tensions between Turkey and France over war-torn Libya, where the two countries back opposing sides.

Turkey throws its weight behind the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which has been fighting a 14-month offensive by the French backed Libyan National Army to seize the capital.