In a blatant violation of international conventions, Turkish diplomats and consular officers in Sweden have gathered intelligence about exiled journalists and 27 critics of the Turkish government who live in Sweden. Similar activities were reported in Poland, Greece, Germany, the UK, France, the US, Bulgaria and Austria.
According to documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Turkish Embassy secretly profiled critics of the government in Ankara led by Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and informed the headquarters in Ankara. The government used the information collected to forge a sham criminal case against these people on fabricated charges.
The people who were targeted by the embassy included educators, representatives of local associations, professionals and businesspeople who live in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingborgs, Norsborg, Malmö and other cities in Sweden.
According to a December 21, 2018 decision by prosecutor Adem Akıncı, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation (file no. 2018/230319) into 28 Turkish and Swedish nationals who were listed in espionage files dispatched by Turkish diplomats in the country without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.
The Turkish government often abuses the criminal justice system to punish its critics and level unfounded charges against opponents on dubious evidence to stifle dissent and suppress freedom of expression.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed systematic spying on Turkish government critics on foreign soil as by Turkish diplomatic missions in February 2020. Çavuşoğlu said Turkish diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates have officially been instructed by the government to conduct such activities abroad. “If you look at the definition of a diplomat, it is clear. … Intelligence gathering is the duty of diplomats,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish journalists on February 16, 2020 following the Munich Security Conference, adding, “Intelligence gathering and information collection are a fact.”