German government avoids question on links with FETÖ establishments

Published 17.07.2018 20:58
Updated 18.07.2018 00:12

German officials have avoided directly answering a question posed by the Left Party about their links with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). In its reply, which was made public on Monday, the German government declined to give details about ongoing talks with FETÖ, arguing that it could harm the activities of its intelligence organizations.

German officials said they could not rule out that "the members of the Gülen movement were involved in the coup attempt," but also argued that so far it had not receive sound evidence of FETÖ suspects living in Germany.

FETÖ, led by the U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, is classified as a terrorist group by Turkey for carrying a long secretive campaign to infiltrate state institutions and orchestrating a foiled coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.

However in Germany, which is home to more than three million Turkish expats, the group continues activities without any hindrance through its associations, schools and media organizations. Despite concrete evidence and Turkey's demands for the extradition of FETÖ members, Ankara's Western allies, including the U.S. and Germany, have not cooperated with Turkish officials.

Asked whether "the German federal government has [any] cooperation with Gülen-affiliated persons, institutions, associations and media organizations," and "whether it has such plans for the future" which would necessitate federal funding, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government declined to give any information.

"The subject matter of this question involves information which particularly affects the functional capability of the intelligence organizations and therefore we cannot provide information that can be available to the public," the government said in its written reply.

It also argued that the public release of any information related to this question involves a big risk of revealing valuable "intelligence contacts" that should be protected.

Left Party lawmaker Ulla Jelpke slammed the government for hiding information from parliament about its cooperation with FETÖ-affiliated groups.

"The government views its cooperation with the associations of Gülen sect so explosive that it is refusing to give an answer, arguing that doing so would affect the functional capability of the intelligence organizations," she told Germany's international broadcaster DW.

"It seems that the government is cooperating with Gülen exclusively through the intelligence services," she added.

Germany's tolerance toward the group, and its reluctance to extradite FETÖ suspects to Turkey, has been a source of tension between the two countries.

Since the 1990s, Gülen's shadowy group managed to build a large network in Germany, and it claims to have around 70,000 followers in the country. Around 14,000 people with suspected ties to FETÖ also arrived in the country after the foiled coup attempt in Turkey, according to local reports.

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