Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Germany raids apartments of 4 Turkish imams suspected of spying for Turkey

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police on Wednesday raided the apartments of four imams suspected of conducting espionage on behalf of the Turkish government against followers of US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of organizing a failed coup last July.

The raids, in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, could further strain relations between the two NATO allies, which need each other to tackle issues ranging from militant Islamist attacks to Europe's migrant crisis.

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (GBA) said in a statement that the imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20 last year by the Turkey-based Diyanet religious authority which said the Gulen movement was behind the putsch attempt.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the four imams were members of Ditib, Germany's largest association of mosques which brings imams from Turkey to serve the community of some three million people with a Turkish background who live here.