• Germany's news in English
Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'
Photo: DPA.

Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'

Emma Anderson · 24 Aug 2016, 15:40

Published: 24 Aug 2016 15:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2016 15:40 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A security politician told Die Welt that Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency has some 6,000 informants in Germany.

For Germany’s population of about 3 million people with Turkish roots, that means that each informant could be responsible for monitoring 500 people, which is a greater proportion than the Stasi had in West Germany, intelligence expert and author Erich Schmidt-Eenboom told The Local.

In comparison, Schmidt-Eenboom explained, the Stasi had around 10,000 agents in West Germany to monitor a population of roughly 60 million - meaning 6,000 people per agent.

The Ministry for State Security, also known as the Stasi, was communist East Germany's secret police force, which secretly monitored millions until the end of the Cold War and German reunification.

But the Stasi engaged primarily in gathering military, political or economic intelligence in West Germany, rather than targeting former citizens, as MIT seems to be doing in Germany, Schmidt-Eenboom said.  

“This is no longer about intelligence reconnaissance, but rather this is increasingly being used for intelligence repression,” Schmidt-Eenboom said.

Since a failed coup attempt in Turkey last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been enacting mass detentions in his own country of suspected opponents, including academics, journalists and military members.

Erdogan has blamed US-based writer and preacher Muhammad Fethullah Gülen for inciting the attempted coup.

"Turkey's internal conflicts between Gülen and Erdogan, and between Kurds and Turks have been brought into Germany, and are impacting the internal peace," Schmidt-Eenboom told The Local.

The informants in Germany are often unpaid supporters of Erdogan, and most are working “out of a sense of patriotism,” Schmidt-Eenboom explained.

‘Turning a blind eye’

These informants are putting pressure on Kurds, Gülen supporters and others perceived as being opponents, for example by calling for boycotts on their businesses, writing negatively about them in Turkish publications, or threatening their family members.

"They can go to the regular German police to complain about it, but this is difficult to do in this kind of parallel society," Schmidt-Eenboom said.

"The government feels that Turkey is an important partner in the refugee crisis, so they may turn a blind eye."

Germany’s Turkish population is the largest ethnic minority in the country. Many came through a guest worker programme in the 1960s.

Tensions between the government and the Kurdish population in Turkey have also risen over the past year since a ceasefire agreement broke down with the Kurdish PKK militant group. A report recently showed that the number of Kurdish Turks seeking asylum in Germany has ballooned in the first half of this year.

Green party politician Hans-Christian Ströbele on Monday called for the German parliament (Bundestag) to discuss Germany’s cooperation with the MIT once the parliament comes back from a summer break, demanding in a statement an to end “Turkey’s subversive intelligence activities in Germany”.
Story continues below…

Specifically Ströbele plans to place the topic on the agenda of the parliamentary committee on Turkey.

The committee chair, Clemens Binninger, agreed that the role of the MIT in Germany should be addressed as soon as possible.

Binninger, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party, told Die Welt that “the recent events in Turkey have not only had an impact on the security situation, but also potentially on the collaboration of the intelligence agencies.”

Schmidt-Eenboom said it was time that German intelligence re-think its relationship with Turkey.

“Germany must reconsider working with such an intelligence agency,” he said. “People should know that this is an issue for internal security.”

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd