Does Russia have spies in Turkey?

Russia, China and Turkey spy in Germany

Berlin - Shortly before the G20 summit in Hamburg, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution accused important participating states such as Russia, China and Turkey of growing espionage activities in Germany. "The Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the main actors in the espionage activities directed against Germany," says the new constitutional protection report.

Turkey is also mentioned in this context, as reported before the official presentation of the document. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, presented the more than 300-page paper in Berlin on Tuesday. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is responsible for counter-espionage in Germany.

Putin and Jinping in Hamburg

The explosive aspect of the report on the espionage activities: Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also expected at the G20 summit in Hamburg. Xi consults with Putin in Moscow this Tuesday, after which he will travel to Berlin, where he will be received by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

Russia and China have been identified as attackers several times in cyberattacks on Germany, according to dpa information in the report. "Sustainability and target selection of the attacks" clearly showed the attempt to strategically spy on politics and the federal administration. The Federal Foreign Office and its representations abroad, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs are mainly affected. The Chancellery and Bundeswehr agencies are also in focus.

The protection of the constitution accuses the civilian Turkish intelligence service MIT that it is trying to "influence the formation of opinion in Germany beyond the Turkish community" through its residencies in various official representations of Turkey in Germany. But the core task of MIT is to educate people about the opposition. The focus is on the "Kurdistan Workers' Party" (PKK), which is also banned in Germany.

Dangerous "Reich Citizens"

The protection of the constitution warns of the increasing danger of the so-called "Reich Citizens". Since the supporters of this movement often see their situation as hopeless, their hatred of representatives of the state is growing, according to the constitutional protection report presented on Tuesday by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. Because they blamed the state for their difficulties.

"The resulting risk potential must not be underestimated in view of the weapons possession of many 'Reichsbürger'", it said in the report. The sometimes considerable potential for violence in the "Reichsbürger" scene is directed primarily against bailiffs and police officers. Deployments of the officials describe the scene as "robberies" against which self-defense is required.

According to the report, around 10,000 people across Germany counted to the scene of "Reich citizens" and "self-administrators" in 2016. Only 500 to 600 of them are right-wing extremists. Since this is about a new phenomenon, the "nationwide survey of the personal potential has not yet been reliably completed". The "Reichsbürger" were recorded for the first time in the report for the protection of the constitution.

The "Reichsbürger" acting in various small groups do not recognize the Federal Republic. They assume that the German Reich still exists within the borders of 1937. Some supporters represent right-wing extremist positions. In October, a trailer shot a police officer in Bavaria, and the group has been increasingly targeted by the security authorities since then.

Erdogan appearances prohibited

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also expected to attend the G20 round on Friday and Saturday in Hamburg. There are tensions with him, among other things, because the German government has banned Erdogan from appearing in front of party friends and supporters in Germany in the vicinity of the summit.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also warns that the Bundestag election may be influenced by Russian cyber attacks on German parties and politicians. As a result, victims of "spying on confidential e-mails or other sensitive data would have to expect explosive or compromising facts to be made public at any time," quoted the "Bild" newspaper (Tuesday) from the report.

At the same time, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution warns against wiretapping by foreign secret services in Berlin's government district. According to the dpa information in the report, the embassy buildings in the center of Berlin are particularly suitable for this "because of their favorable location and their extraterritoriality" and other comparable diplomatic missions. Surveillance must be expected "for all wireless communication links" such as calls to cell phones or WLAN connections.

Attacks regularly accumulated in connection with important economic and financial policy meetings, it said. High-ranking decision-makers and their immediate employees would be involved in the supposed communication of the chief negotiator at government level, the Sherpa group, in cleverly designed e-mails. The recipients should open a malicious attachment to the mail and thus trigger an infection of the systems.

The report for the protection of the constitution also deals with the "Reichsbürger" scene, which the BfV has been observing since November 2016. So-called Reich citizens do not recognize the Federal Republic as a state and claim that the German Reich continues to exist to this day. In this context, the Federal Office is calling for police authorities to get information more easily from the national weapons register, reports the editorial network Germany (Tuesday). So far, the police have only been allowed to request data during specific investigations and before a specific measure. (APA, dpa, 4.7.2017)