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France charges 2 suspected members of Turkish Grey Wolves with ‘advocating terrorism’

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French authorities have formally charged two men suspected of belonging to the Turkish ultranationalist Grey Wolves movement with advocating terrorism and relaunching the outlawed group, Agence France-Presse and Le Figaro reported on Thursday.

The Grey Wolves, an ultranationalist Turkish movement that is the paramilitary wing of a far-right Turkish party allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been a source of contention between Ankara and Paris, especially after France banned the group in November 2020. This action led to increased tensions between the two nations.

The two men, who reportedly have no previous convictions, were placed under judicial supervision. The prosecutor’s office emphasized that the investigation will continue and will focus in particular on examining the suspects’ computer equipment.

The Grey Wolves, originally referred to as members of the “Ülkü Ocakları,” emerged in the 1960s around the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Turkey. The group, which has embraced the ideology of “Pan-Turkism” and has suspected links to Turkish organized crime, became notorious for its acts of violence in Turkey against left-wing activists and minorities, including murders, in the 1970s and 1980s.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin banned the Grey Wolves in 2020, saying that the group “incites discrimination and hatred and is involved in violent actions.”

The Gray Wolves have also been implicated in incidents between the Turkish and Armenian communities in Lyon and accused by the French government of involvement. The group is accused of spreading an ideology that discriminates against Kurdish and Armenian people and incites violence, according to Paris.

In 2020 France officially banned the Grey Wolves after a center dedicated to the memory of those who died in the mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced with graffiti, including the name of the Grey Wolves.

The German government has faced an intensified public campaign in favor of banning the Turkish nationalist group since then.

Earlier last year, the European Parliament called on the European Union and its member states to examine the possibility of adding the Grey Wolves to the EU terrorist list.

In its 2019-2020 report prepared by Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor, the EP voiced concerns about the group, saying it was expanding to worrying levels not only in Turkey but also in EU countries.

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