Turkey trying to track down Gülen supporters in Sweden
Sweden Radio, Jul 22 2016
The Turkish government is trying to track down supporters of Gülen, both at home and abroad after the attempted coup last week. The government has set up a hotline where members of the public can call in to report Gülen sympathizers, who the Turkish government believes are responsible for the failed coup. A day after the attempted government overthrow, Erdogan declared Gülen to be the mastermind behind the coup. Since then, the government has arrested thousands of police, judges, and military officials, but the hunt does not stop in Turkey. On a Facebook page for supporters of Turkey’s ruling AKP party in Sweden, there is a post encouraging individuals to report anyone associated with the movement, including a phone number to call. The post reads:
We encourage everyone to report the individuals, organizations and institutions that are supporting or financing Fethullah Gülen’s terrorist organization, both domestically and abroad.
A Swedish Radio reporter called the number and it rang through to Turkey’s presidential office. The person on the other end confirmed that they were also interested in any details about Gülen sympathizers in Sweden including personal data and addresses. When asked who is in charge of this initiative, the response was: The president. The State. International law expert Ove Bring says:
These types of intelligence activities may well be illegal and could qualify as espionage against refugees. I think, since the Turkish state is involved, it can be a matter for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to summon the Turkish Ambassador and have a serious conversation about this and say that it is not appropriate. Sweden is probably not the only country that is vulnerable to this. There are probably a great many countries in Europe and maybe elsewhere.
The Swedish government has yet to contact the Turkish embassy to find out more information, but told the TT news agency that it expected to in the next couple of days. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said:
We don’t know for certain the government’s involvement in this, but it will be an opportunity to speak to the Turkish ambassador about this and the worrying developments in Turkey.
Turkish ambassador: It’s natural that Turkey wants tips about Gülen supporters in Sweden
Swedish Radio, Jul 22 2016
The Turkish ambassador to Sweden says it’s “only natural” that Turkey would seek information about people living in Sweden who support the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish President has blamed for last week’s attempted coup. Kaya Türkmen was responding to a Radio Sweden story about a phone number supporters of the Turkish government have been encouraging people living outside of Turkey to call to report those loyal to Gülen. Türkmen said:
I personally found it only natural that the Turkish state is of course interested in such activities if they are in Sweden. I don’t think that Sweden has laws that would prevent Turkey to gather information on the activities of an organisation that is trying to topple the government in Turkey. Every state has the right to collect information on activities that are directed against it even if it’s individuals living in Sweden.