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Erdogan opponents 'monitored' by embassy in Denmark: report

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Erdogan opponents 'monitored' by embassy in Denmark: report
Photo: Adem Altan/Scanpix
11:35 CEST+02:00
An advisor at the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen has confirmed that it collected information on suspected supporters of the Gülen movement based in Denmark.

Four men and fourteen schools in Denmark have been reported as being connected to the Gülen movement in a document sent to Turkey last autumn, reports newspaper Kristeligt-Dagblad.

The Gülen movement is a religious and social movement named after Fethullah Gülen, a former imam accused by Turkey of being behind a failed military coup attempt in the country last July. Gülen denies his involvement.

Turkey's embassy in Copenhagen has not previously given any official response to the document, according to Kristeligt Dagblad, which has since gained access to the report.

Adnan Bülent Baloglu, religious adviser at the Turkish embassy in Denmark, defended in an interview with newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad the information in the document, which shows that the embassy collected information on 14 schools and four individuals in Denmark thought to be connected to the Gülen movement.

No specific schools or names were given by Baloglu in the interview.

“This gathering of information is the reflex by a state to a terrible coup attempt in which several people were killed. If these people are running freely amongst us, we need to know about it,” Baloglu told Kristeligt Dagblad.

The official's role as religious advisor at the Turkish embassy encompasses responsibility for Turkish religious matters in Denmark, news agency Ritzau reports.

One Danish school, which is one of 14 previously linked to the movement on Facebook last year, said that it would consider legal action against Baloglu.

Phønix school in Horsens - an extra-curricular school for young adults known in Denmark as an efterskole - also denied any connection to the Gülen movement.

"This is certainly an issue that I personally beleive we should follow up on... I think action should be taken against people that have confirmed we are on a list," the school's head Harun Güler told DR.

Baloglu said that he saw nothing wrong with the collection of information by the Turkish authorities.

“Have any of these people come to any harm after the collection of information?” he told Kristeligt Dagblad.

He added that the information was collected by the Turkish embassy and not by the imams themselves.

German security services have previously reported that at least 13 Turkish imams in Germany have provided information about Germany-based Turks to state authorities in Turkey, reports Ritzau.

Last month, Denmark's government sought clarification from Ankara after several high-profile Turkish-Danes said that they feared being denounced to Turkish authorities as national traitors and terrorists.

Prior to that, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen requested that his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim postpone a planned visit after Turkish government representatives were barred from holding referendum campaign meetings in Germany and the Netherlands, to the fury of Erdogan and his government.

The April 16th referendum in Turkey resulted in 51.4 percent of the country voting to give wider-ranging powers to Erdogan's presidential post.

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