First Published: 2017-12-06

Germany drops probe into Muslim clerics accused of spying
German prosecutors dropping case against several Muslim clerics suspected of spying for Turkey in probe that had inflamed tensions.
Middle East Online

Ditib, an organisation controlled by Ankara, manages some 900 mosques and religious centres in Germany.

BERLIN - German prosecutors on Wednesday said they were dropping a case against several Muslim clerics suspected of spying for Turkey due to insufficient evidence and as some were out of reach of law enforcers.

The probe had inflamed tensions with Ankara, at a time when ties were frayed over Berlin's criticisms of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's human rights record.

The Muslim clerics targeted by the German investigation belonged to Ditib, an organisation controlled by Ankara that manages some 900 mosques and religious centres in Germany.

They were suspected of spying for Erdogan's government on the movement of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a coup bid last year.

But German federal prosecutors said they have now halted the probe.

Prosecutors said they had sought arrest warrants for seven suspects who are now residing in unknown locations, but a presiding judge found that the individuals did not pose an urgent threat.

Another seven individuals were cleared as allegations were not substantiated by evidence.

Police were able to obtain "written documents, data storage banks and communications material" in raids targeting the suspects, but "analyses and investigations did not find" proof that they provided information to Turkish authorities.

The case against five others was dropped as they were found to have "provided only very general findings to the consulate and not concrete information relating to specific individuals".

Ties between Germany and Turkey -- NATO allies with strong historic ties -- nosedived over Ankara's arrest of several German citizens and Berlin's strong criticism of the Turkish crackdown following last year's failed coup, which has seen over 50,000 people arrested.

The Turkish government has however made some conciliatory moves in recent weeks, including releasing two German nationals who had been detained in Turkey.

A week after the German citizens were granted conditional release, both sides' foreign ministers also met in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya for informal talks -- the first meeting since the bitter row intensified.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a rare phone conversation.

 

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks