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Suspected spy: "Unfounded allegation" for Ankara
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has spoken out about the alleged espionage case in Austria. Ankara rejects the "unsubstantiated allegations," said spokesman Hami Aksoy, according to Reuters news agency today. Vienna is not in a position to "escape the populist rhetoric and its anti-Turkey obsession".
He added: "We urge the Austrian government to stop pursuing the artificial agenda with flat and domestic political calculations about Turkey and to act with state seriousness, common sense and sincere cooperation."
Yesterday, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) announced that a person had confessed to having spied on behalf of the Turkish secret service in Austria. An indictment is imminent. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna asked a representative of the Turkish embassy to speak to them.
Ministry rejects criticism
The Interior Ministry rejected the criticism of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and spoke of a "completely wrong interpretation of the circumstances". The government protects and guarantees the exercise of the basic rights and freedoms of all people who lived in Austria - regardless of their origin or religion. Those who identify with basic democratic values are part of society and enjoy the protection of the Austrian authorities.
Expert: Not a spy
The secret service expert Thomas Riegler relativized the role of the arrested person. She was "not a real spy, but an informant," he explained. "It is an old law in espionage that you persuade people to work together under pressure," said the expert.
When asked about the size of the Turkish network of informants in Austria, Riegler referred to earlier estimates by the then member of the National Council, Peter Pilz, that there were “at least 200 informants”. This is "the largest network after that of the Russians," said Riegler.
According to the extremism expert Thomas Rammerstorfer, Turkish espionage in the Austrian community has been "an open secret" for many years. According to Rammerstorfer, "against several dozen" people are currently being investigated for espionage in Turkey. In this context, Rammerstorfer praised the work of the protection of the constitution, but at the same time criticized the “political marketing” of the cause before the Vienna election, which he found “very doubtful”.
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