Classified document reveals spying on critics and their legal companies in Moldova by the Turkish Embassy

Turkish Embassy in Chisinau

Nordic Monitor

 

A classified document obtained by Nordic Monitor reveals how Turkish diplomats collected information on the business activities of critics of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Moldova and profiled their companies as if they were part of a terrorist organization.

The document, dated October 15, 2018 and signed by Zafer Ozan Tiryaki, deputy chief of the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Department of the Erzurum Police Department, confirmed once more that intelligence reports created by Turkish diplomatic missions as part of a large-scale spying campaign on critics and opponents of the Turkish government living outside Turkey have been used in criminal cases in the country.

In the official correspondence, Tiryaki informed the Erzurum Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of the legal activities of Sadık Kesmeci in Turkey and abroad, and described Star Light SRL, a company founded by Kesmeci in Moldova, as a terrorist entity, with reference to a letter received from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. It is obvious that information gathered by Turkish diplomats in Chisinau was conveyed to the Erzurum police by the ministry to initiate criminal proceedings against people who were named by the Turkish Embassy in Moldova.

As seen in all the politically motivated criminal cases persecuting Gülen movement followers in Turkey, depositing funds in Bank Asya, volunteering and working at Gülen-affiliated organizations and using a mobile messaging app called ByLock, which was downloaded more than 600,000 times from the Google Play Store and the App Store worldwide, were presented as the main evidence for issuing an arrest warrant for Kesmeci.

 

Confidential correspondence signed by Zafer Ozan Tiryaki:

Moldova_tiryaki

 

Working for schools, foundations and companies established by businesspeople who were seen as close to the Gülen movement and sending children to schools run by the movement were considered acts of terrorism, according to the document.

In addition to Kesmeci, Tiryaki also flagged several people as criminals because they had deposits at Bank Asya, once the largest Islamic lender in Turkey and one of its biggest private banks until it was unlawfully seized by the government in May 2015. Moreover, downloading ByLock, once a publicly available smart phone messaging application, was also defined as an act terrorism.

 

Annex of the classified documents include information collected by Turkish officials in Moldovan territory:

Moldova_sadik_fisleme

 

The Turkish Embassy in Chisinau was also involved in the illegal detention and deportation of seven Turkish teachers working for a group of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Moldova by Turkish and Moldovan intelligence authorities in September 2018. The teachers then were transported to Turkey by Turkish intelligence officers and put behind bars.

 

Halil Gürol Sökmensüer, Turkish ambassador to Moldova.

 

Following the intelligence operation, five of the sevenTurkish teachers appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which fined Moldova for expelling the Turkish teachers at Turkey’s request. The applicants had been unlawfully deprived of their liberty and extradited to Turkey, where they were in danger of imprisonment, and the transfer of Turkish nationals to Turkey undermined domestic and international law, the ruling said.

“Depriving the applicants of their liberty in this way amounted to an extra-legal transfer of persons from the Moldovan territory to Turkey which circumvented all guarantees offered to them by domestic and international law,” it said. The court ruled that the Republic of Moldova would pay 25,000 euros to each applicant.

The former head of the country’s secret services, Vasile Botnari, was also indicted by Moldovan prosecutors over the illegal deportations in 2018.

 

Secret letter by police chief Selçuk Doğuş, deputy head of the Organized Crime and anti-Smuggling Unit:

Moldova_ihbar

 

Nordic Monitor previously reported on official correspondence from the Turkish Foreign Ministry that revealed how Turkish embassies and consulates have become tools of spying in the hands of Turkey’s Islamist rulers. The correspondence included two CDs, the first of which contained information about the leading critics of the Erdoğan regime, while the second CD involved details of the structure of the Gülen movement in each country and a full list of people believed to be affiliated with the movement.

According to judicial documents released by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on January 16, 2019, the foreign ministry had compiled a long list of foreign entities that were owned and/or operated by people who are seen as close to the movement in 92 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Those lists created by Turkish embassies triggered numerous criminal prosecutions on charges of terrorism. In Turkey, over half a million people affiliated with the movement have been put in detention facilities on similar charges in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. In some cases, host country organizations that were duly authorized and licensed under local law were also described as terrorist entities by Turkish diplomatic missions in clear contradiction with the perspective of local authorities.

The immunities and privileges of diplomats and consular staff are governed by international conventions. Diplomats enjoying the privileges and immunities described in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations are under a duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state and to avoid interfering in its internal affairs as detailed in Article 41. Similarly, consular staff are granted limited privileges and immunities by the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs, but host state authorities can start investigations and prosecute any of the personnel if they perpetrate crimes inside or outside the consulate premises according to Article 43 of the convention.

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