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​Turkey: German spying ‘unacceptable’ if confirmed

Published time: August 18, 2014 12:41
Edited time: August 18, 2014 16:43
AFP Photo / Michael Kappeler

AFP Photo / Michael Kappeler

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called in Germany’s ambassador in Ankara to explain media reports that Germany’s secret services had been spying on its NATO ally.

“This is a grave situation that needs to be explained by Germany if there is slightest truth to these allegations,” the ministry said in a statement Monday. “Such practices in relations among friends and allies, which should be built on mutual trust and respect, are in no way acceptable.”

“It is expected that the German authorities present an official and satisfactory explanation on the claims reported by German media and end these activities immediately if the claims are true.”

Turkey's acting Foreign Ministry undersecretary, Erdogan Iscan, met German Ambassador Eberhard Pohl to voice Turkey's concerns.

Germany said that its ambassador had not been “summoned” but rather invited for a discussion, which was conducted “in a friendly manner.”

Earlier, German media reported that the national Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had been spying on its NATO ally Turkey since at least 2009.

According to the reports, Berlin didn’t treat Ankara with the level of trust it demands from the US, because there are many Turks living in Germany.

The official reaction follows comments from Mehmet Ali Sahin, deputy chairman of Turkey’s Ruling Justice and Development Party, who said the reports merited an investigation.

“I am of the opinion that there is a need to handle the issue seriously. Our government and the Foreign Ministry will conduct the necessary investigation of the allegations,” he said.

Pro-government Turkish daily Sabah said an investigation has already been launched.

Merkel’s deputy spokesperson, Christiane Wirtz, refused to comment on the spying reports Monday, Reuters reported.

Germany’s intelligence activities are overseen by a governmental panel whose motivations and decisions are top secret, she explained.

Wirtz said that “Germany cooperates closely with Turkey in many different areas,” naming the war in Syria and the Iraqi insurgency as areas of mutual interest between Berlin and Ankara.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for the BND said that “in principle” Germany doesn’t carry out surveillance against friendly states, like the US, with all accidental recordings “immediately erased.”

However, German media quoted unnamed officials who said that this stance didn’t necessarily apply to all NATO countries, including Turkey.

Last year, after leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that US intelligence was listening to Angela Merkel’s personal phone, the German chancellor famously stated that “spying among friends is not at all acceptable.”

Opposition parties inside Germany accused Merkel’s government of hypocrisy.

Following the outcry over the NSA’s surveillance, it is “incomprehensible” that Germany is “actively spying on allied states,” said Simone Peter, one of the leaders of the Greens party.

Left Party’s Katja Kipping accused the BND of being “a state within the state” and urged the organization to be finally taken under democratic control.

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