Three Austrian nationals of Turkish origin accused of espionage

Three Austrian nationals of Turkish origin accused of espionage
A+ A-
Three people who were detained in Austria in June only to be released two days later are now accused of revealing identities of Turkish dissidents to Turkish intelligence.

Austrian Ministry of the Interior confirmed Thursday that espionage charges were filed against three Austrian nationals of Turkish origin who had been arrested on 20 June in Tyrol, according to a report by Austrian daily Kurier.

The suspects had been released after being held in custody for 48 hours. Innsbruck Public Prosecutor's Office said that while applications for pre-trial detention were dismissed, an appeal has been filed, and a court decision is yet to be made.

Austria-based Turkish news website Virgul recently said that the accusations against the three suspects involve reporting identities of around 800 people, allegedly affiliated with the Gulen movement, to the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT), but the number and alleged affiliation remain to be confirmed.

Gulen movement is led by Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher living in the United States, who was a close ally of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) till the alliance fractured in early 2010s. The movement has eventually begun to be targeted by the Turkish political administration as a terrorist group, particularly after the coup attempt in 2016, which according to Turkish officials was led by the group.

The label "Fetullahist Terror Organization," or "FETO," emerged in the rhetoric of the Turkish authorities, but has begun to be used widely in the news reports of the Turkish media although there is actually no group operating under such name.