A German court on Thursday began to hear the trial of a man who is accused of spying on Turkish dissidents in the country for Turkey’s intelligence service, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.
The defendant, identified as Aziz A., is accused of collaborating with a Turkish man recently convicted of spying on dissidents for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
The first hearing of the trial of Aziz A., a German citizen of Turkish descent who also faces weapons charges, according to the indictment drafted by German prosecutors in August, was held at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf on Thursday.
The prosecutors said in the indictment that Aziz A. gave Ali D., a Turkish man who was convicted of spying for MİT in July, the names of two German citizens he saw as supporters of the faith-based Gülen movement in Germany and conveyed detailed information to him on one of them.
They also alleged that Aziz A. went to target practice at a shooting range together with Ali D. and sold him ammunition.
Aziz A. admitted that he had collaborated with Ali D. to gather information on dissidents in Germany for Turkish intelligence, DW said in the report, citing the prosecution, adding that he started “confessing” at the first hearing of the trial.
Seven more hearings are scheduled to take place as part of the trial by mid-November, according to DW.
Ali D. was arrested in a Düsseldorf hotel on Sept. 17, 2021 after an employee alerted the police to having seen a gun and ammunition in his room. Lists of names of some Gülen movement followers and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were also seized in his hotel room that included additional information on each person, according to a Der Spiegel report at the time.
The PKK is an armed group listed by Turkey and much of the international community as a terrorist organization.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Since 2016, Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people suspected to have links to the movement.
In order to avoid the government-led crackdown, thousands of Gülen followers have fled Turkey and taken refuge in European and other countries.
For years, Turkey has repeatedly urged the German authorities to take action against Gülen supporters who sought asylum in the country.