A criminal investigation has been opened into allegations that the Ankara government has spied on expatriate Turks. Several academic events in Switzerland were reportedly filmed and photographed by unspecified agents, Deutsche Welle reports.
Swiss prosecutors said on Friday, March 24 they had “concrete suspicions [of espionage] against the Turkish community in Switzerland [by] a political intelligence service.”
The Office of the Attorney General confirmed it had opened a criminal investigation on March 16, after receiving a green light from the Swiss government.
Prosecutors, however, refused to provide details on which specific people or organizations the investigation was targeting.
The investigation follows reports that in January, two men took photos of the participants at a University of Zurich seminar discussing the 1915 Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turks, a term which the Ankara government vehemently rejects.
Local media reported that other events at the University in late 2016 and early 2017 were filmed or photographed, including one where the editor in chief of the Turkish newspaper “Cumhuriyet” was honored.
On Thursday, March 23, the Swiss foreign minister told his Turkish counterpart that his country would “rigorously investigate” any illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks and urged Turkey to comply with Swiss law.
Close to 70,000 Turkish citizens live in Switzerland, according to Swiss government statistics, while the Turkish embassy’s website refers to 130,000 Turkish nationals.
Deutsche Welle. Swiss open probe into spying on its Turkish community