By Madeline Chambers
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will not tolerate foreign espionage on its territory, the interior minister said on Tuesday, in a robust response to media reports that Turkish secret services were spying on supporters of the Gulen movement in Germany.
Fethullah Gulen, a U.S-based Muslim cleric with a large following in Turkey, is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed military coup last July. Ankara has purged state institutions, schools and universities and the media of tens of thousands of suspected supporters of the cleric.
The media reports of Turkish espionage in Germany have deepened a rift between the NATO allies in the run-up to a referendum next month in Turkey that proposes to significantly expand the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and two broadcasters reported that Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency had given Germany’s foreign intelligence service a list of names of hundreds of supposed Gulen supporters living in Germany.
Interior Minster Thomas de Maiziere, speaking in Passau in southern Germany, said he was not surprised by the report and added that the lists would be looked at individually.