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Turkish intel nabs Syrians spying for French intelligence

Arecent operation by Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) uncovered an espionage ring linked to France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE). Led by Syrian national Ahmet Katie, the ring supplied false information and papers to French intelligence, which sought to defame Türkiye over the alleged mistreatment of refugees seeking to leave Türkiye.

The ring was linked to Paris-based Collectif des Amis d’Alep, a nonprofit organization they were introduced to through French intelligence. The captured suspects were also promised asylum in France, according to security sources. Three espionage suspects are currently in prison, preceding their trial.

The counterespionage unit and the Istanbul branch of MIT have been running surveillance on the ring for months before Istanbul police recently launched an operation to capture the suspects.

The suspects are accused of forging documents containing defaming information against Türkiye and supplying information to foreign intelligence services about Türkiye’s migration policies.

Ahmet Katie, an Istanbul-based “activist journalist,” applied to the French Consulate in Istanbul for asylum for himself and his family. French intelligence asked him to carry out military and political espionage targeting Türkiye in return for asylum. Katie accepted the offer and started compiling data on Syrian refugees and Türkiye’s migration policies.

MIT discovered that Katie, along with suspects Ibrahim Shewaish and Halis Elnahar, supplied information to a French nongovernmental organization (NGO) upon orders of DGSE operatives. The NGO is allegedly controlled by French intelligence and instructed the three men to forge evidence of the “torture” of migrants in centers where the latter are held before their deportation. Katie posed as a refugee rights activist and forged several documents to that extent. Katie also sought to contact some political parties in Türkiye.

He also contacted several foreign media outlets and supplied fake news, such as those claiming Syrians were killed en masse by Turkish troops on the Turkish-Syrian border and claiming border troops dumped 55 migrants into the Meriç (Evros) river between Türkiye and Greece.

Katie is also accused of obtaining personal data on foreigners in Türkiye. He exchanged intelligence through a WhatsApp group he formed with a point of contact at the French NGO.

Before the operation, he was briefly questioned by MIT long before the agency suspected him of espionage activities. After questioning, he contacted the French Consulate in Istanbul and claimed he was wiretapped.

One of his contacts was a woman working for DGSE named “Irene,” and another was Hussam Elnahar, who was his contact with the French NGO. Elnahar “warned” Katie when he was “slow” to supply information to French intelligence.

Sensing an MIT operation, French intelligence told Katie to “wait” in a safe house in Bursa, a province south of Istanbul, but Turkish intelligence tracked him down there. Later, the French Consulate sped up his visa process. Katie was about to leave for France when police and MIT intercepted him and others.

MIT, in cooperation with Turkish police, has uncovered a string of espionage networks in recent years, including one working for Russia, and thwarted a plot by Iran to assassinate Israeli citizens in Türkiye. Operations have also led to the discovery of a plot by Iranian intelligence operatives to kidnap Iranian dissidents who took shelter in Türkiye.

Most recently, a large number of suspects working for Israel’s Mossad and spying on Palestinians and others in Türkiye were apprehended after MIT’s operations. Mossad is said to have recruited Palestinians and Syrian nationals in Türkiye as part of an operation against foreigners living in Türkiye.

(Daily Sabah)

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