Turkey’s government has reportedly asked teachers and parents of Turkish origin in Germany to collect information on any criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in German schools.
The Turkish consulate in North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany has been holding meetings, named “information events,” during which it told the Turkish attendees that their children should film their teachers at classes, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reported.
The report cited the Union for Education and Science (GEW) as saying that parents and teachers of Turkish origin have been asked to report any critical comments about the Turkish government.
“We have heard from various different sources that people were told to report every piece of criticism of Turkey, which had been heard at schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, to the consulate,” said GEW spokesman Sebastian Krebs.
“The consulate also encouraged parents to tell their children to film teachers and pass on the evidence to Turkish authorities,” he added.
Teachers at the meeting in Dusseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, refused to comply with the demand to spy on their schools, Krebs noted.
The Turkish consulate has not provided any comment with regard to the accusations, but Germany’s state security has launched a probe into the incident.
The accusations come on top of the reports in early February that imams from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib) in Germany spied on Turkish followers of self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has accused of plotting an attempted coup in Turkey last July.
Also on February 14, senior Austrian opposition lawmaker Peter Pilz accused Turkey of running an informer network via its embassy in Vienna aimed at targeting the critics of Erdogan and promoting his policies.
Pilz said he had sent documents regarding the activities of the network, run by the umbrella group ATIB, to the police.
The ATIB is headed by the religious attaché at Turkey’s embassy, Fatih Mehmet Karadas, and oversees the activities of dozens of mosques across Austria.
Pilz noted that the Turkish government sends imams to work for the ATIB to collect information in particular about followers of Gulen.
Gulen denies any involvement in the abortive coup, which claimed the lives of at least 240 people. However, the Turkish government has arrested tens of thousands of people over suspected ties with the US-based cleric.
The umbrella organization also monitors Turkish Kurds, Turkish opposition politicians and journalists in Austria, Pilz added.