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Iran Press TV

Erdogan hits back at German magazine over spying report

Iran Press TV

Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:36AM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has roundly rejected a recent report that the country's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) is spying on political dissidents in Germany, describing it as fictional and slanderous.

Turkey's presidential office, in a statement released on Wednesday, dismissed the June 27 report published in the German-language Focus news magazine that an MIT-run spy ring monitored Kurdish and leftist opponents as well as supporters of the opposition figure, Fethullah Gulen, who is in exile in the US.

The report added that the dissidents were then designated to be detained upon their return to Turkey.

Focus added that German police arrested two Turkish nationals and a German-Turk in late 2014 on charges of spying on compatriots in Germany for the MIT, and that the group's purported leader, Taha Gergerlioglu, had close connection to Erdogan.

The German magazine added that the Turkish government, through consul Serhat Aksen, tried to influence the judge as the trio were standing trial in Germany's southwestern city of Karlsruhe, and subsequently interrupted the proceedings.

Erdogan's office denied that the "person about who the story was built" had any official role or "relationship" with the Turkish president.

"Instead of sharing our disclaimer with its readers, the magazine repeated its baseless claims with a new story (earlier this month)," the statement added.

It also defended Aksen's actions, stating that, under international law, consular officials were entitled to observe legal proceedings against their country's citizens.

"The presentation of baseless stories as news seriously harms the reliability of media outlets, and we believe that Focus magazine should publish our disclaimer to the story, which severely breached the ethics of journalism," the statement said.

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