A man believed to be a Turkish spy was arrested by German police after they discovered his plans to assassinate several Kurdish and other figures opposed to the Turkish regime in Germany.
Suspected Turkish spy Mehmet Fatih Sayan was arrested in Hamburg by the German Federal Police (BKA). The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has determined that the arrest was warranted and that they will pursue charges on Mr. Sayan who they say travelled to Germany in November in order to assassinate two high-ranking Kurdish officials living in Europe, reports Der Spiegel.
The 31-year-old, who is a member of the Turkish National Intelligence Service, is reported to have had two targets for assassination: one Kurdish leader in Bremen and another in Brussels. Police have not released the identities of the two Kurdish leaders and authorities have also charged the spy with sending information on Kurdish activities in Germany to the Turkish National Intelligence Service.
The conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government, specifically between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish regime, has gone on for almost 30 years. In the wake of the failed coup in July of this year, the situation has drastically escalated between the Turks and the Kurds.
In recent months, the Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrested many Kurdish leaders in the Turkish parliament, accusing them of having sympathies or allegiance with the PKK which has been designated a terrorist group by the Turkish government.
The escalation of tensions between the two groups has also spilt over into Germany as large diasporas of both Turks and Kurds live within the country. In the immediate aftermath of the failed coup, Kurds and other opposition leaders living in Germany claimed that they had received threats from Turkish nationalist groups like the Grey Wolves, a far-right organisation.
In neighbouring Austria, the situation has also escalated with Kurds and Turks clashing in the centre of the Austrian capital of Vienna steps away from the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A Kurdish demonstration was interrupted by a large group of Turkish nationals and a mass brawl ensued. Tourists and locals were forced to flee the area to avoid being caught up in the violence.
Large pro-Erdoğan demonstrations have also taken place in both countries following the attempted coup and have been heavily criticised by politicians like Norbert Hofer of the anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who said that any Turks not loyal to Austria were free to leave the country.