Turkish journalist Abdullah Boskurt has made revelations about the action of the Turkish intelligence agency, known as the MIT in Greece, in an interview with Ethnos tis Kyriakis.
The day Turkish journalist Abdullah Boskurt left his country for Sweden in July 2016, Turkish police raided his office in Ankara. For the "exile," it was a one-way journey for him, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had decided to relentlessly pursue those he considered "enemies." Journalists were first.
Boskurt escaped prison for a few hours. He is the journalist who revealed the relationship between the (MIT) and armed jihadist groups and organised crime networks. The news agency Muhabir, where he worked, was among the Turkish media outlets shut down by Turkish authorities, which went so far as to confiscate all computers and journalists' files.
Boskurt's associates are still behind bars and were not included in the list of recently released detainees due to the coronavirus pandemic - that was reserved for murderers. Under these adverse conditions, however, the Turkish journalist continues to make revelations. Last week, in fact, his research had a Greek flavour, as it highlighted the action of MIT in Greece between 2018-2019.
Turkish agents, according to secret documents, covert operations in illegal immigrant camps in Greek territory in order to gather evidence for supporters of Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed for the failed 2016 coup against Erdoğan. Many of Gülen's supporters escaped to Greece after the failed coup to avoid persecution. In an interview he gave to "Nation Sunday," Boskurt stressed that the action of the MIT expanded in recent years in Greece and Turkey by "planting" agents in migrant camps and in neighbourhoods where followers of Gülen are.
"What MIT agents are doing is penetrating the environment where Gülenists feel safe and developing links there. The document I published proves just that. They managed to identify the names of citizens who had left Turkey for Greece. MIT set up businesses in refugee reception centers and gather information. They may have 'planted' agents but also invested 'funds' there. It is frightening that Erdoğan's long arm touches his opponents even when they think they have escaped from their pursuer. MIT is also mapping the tactics of the Gülenists. We must not forget that the Turkish secret services have kidnapped Gülen's followers from various countries. For example, they kidnapped six people from Kosovo," revealed Boskurt.
The Turkish journalist claims that MIT has "invested" in its relations with organised slave trade circles, even for the conduct of such secret operations: "It was one of the first services involved in human trafficking. Some of the traffickers had worked with MIT to send agents to Europe."
When asked by Ethnos if the secret services were involved in "promoting" illegal immigrants at the Evros border, he said: "The fact that the company used 'Metro' buses to transport refugees to the Greek border is in itself an element. This is because the owner of this large company, Galip Öztürk, has been convicted of organized crime, and in 2014 he publicly admitted that his buses had been used by MIT to transport migrants to the Syrian border. The interior minister, who is in charge of the detention centers for migrants in Turkey, also intervened in the operation to gather migrants from camps, put them on buses and push them to the Greek border," he said.
The "escalation" of MIT's action in Greece is attributed by the Turkish researcher to Erdoğan's pursuit of instrumentalising Greek-Turkish differences to give air to the sails of Islamist-nationalists and gain micro-political benefits.
"Your country has become a boxing bag for President Erdoğan, with the goal of taking his nationalist allies by his side. He is betting on the extreme diplomacy on sensitive issues and that is why he needs the secret operations of MIT in Greece," Boskurt revealed.
In Turkey, any revelations that light up Erdoğan's regime, are made out of fear of imprisonment. Not only for the journalist but also for their source.
Boskurt managed to obtain secret documents from the Turkish services that were monitoring Gülen's followers. While reading the contents of the documents, Boskurt said he saw an explanatory note next to the name of a teacher from the province of Ikonio (Ἰκόνιον, Turkish: Konya). He said he was impressed because this note was written in different letters. Due to this opposition, Boskurt paid more attention and found out that she was a Turkish teacher, whose name was identified in a secret MIT operation in the camp where she lived. This woman worked at a school and left her country for Greece in the summer of 2016 after the coup.
"The informant told the Turkish services not only about the teacher but also about many other names of Gülen supporters. The Prosecutor then ordered the Turkish Police to investigate these names in all databases, in order to compile reports and forward them to the authorities. It is a very sensitive issue for Erdoğan, because the secret operations of MIT are personally approved by him," he explained.
But how does a source trust to give this information to a journalist, knowing the consequences in case of its disclosure?
"I keep my sources and I work from exile. There are still some brave people in Turkey who are willing to talk and give information, despite threats of imprisonment or even death," he said.
Regarding his own risks, he added: "In Turkey, legal research is not supported by law. You may suddenly be imprisoned on fabricated charges, often for defamation, crimes against the state, or terrorism. To date, 161 journalists are behind bars. Turkey has the world's highest number of imprisoned journalists. It is worse than countries like Iran, China and Russia. I know the nature of my job and I know the risks I take," Boskurt explained.
Threats have become a "habit" for him. Those who frighten him, he says, are those who come from Turkish state officials who are "affected" by his revelations about the connection between the Turkish services and the jihadists and organised crime.
The arrival of Gülenists in Greece is of great concern to the National Intelligence Service and the Hellenic Police. In the past, there have been serious allegations by Turkish citizens that they were being monitored by agents in Athens. Greek security officials say Turkish asylum seekers are not following the same procedure as other refugees and migrants. Additional countermeasures and protection measures are being taken, given the risks described by Boskurt.