In a hastily called press conference, the Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, Integration Minister Susanne Raab and General Director for Public Security, Franz Ruf, informed about an espionage case. Specifically, it concerns a person who is said to have spied on behalf of Turkish secret services in Austria, charges have been opened.
According to Nehammer, the person – several media outlets refer to a woman – fully confesses the accusations. She had been instructed by the Turkish secret service to spy on Turkish citizens in Austria critical to Erdogan’s policy and to report them to Turkey.
Facts can prove the accusations. According to Nehammer, 35 people were arrested when they entered Turkey from Austria between 2018 and 2020, being contacted by the Turkish secret service and obtained as informants. After their release, these people are supposed to report on critics of the regime when they return home.
The alleged spy who has now been arrested is said to have originally been imprisoned in Turkey. In order to be released again, she is said to have agreed to spy on compatriots in Austria and immigrants of Turkish origin for the government in Ankara.
According to Nehammer, Turkey is trying to jeopardize “peace, security and order” in Austria, and that would not be tolerated. The interior minister also informed his German counterpart Horst Seehofer and Europol. Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) had also been informed in order to take diplomatic steps.
Even if, at least at the press conference, the arrested was not directly involved in the recent riots in Vienna’s district of Favoriten, where Turkish nationalistic extremists, belonging to the „Grey Wolves“, were responsible for violent attacks during demonstrations, the cases are related. There, according to Ruf, were “clear indicators” for a secret service approach, such as professional documentation of the events – “and not by us,” said Nehammer. However, the two were not more specific.
In the course of the investigation into the case of Favoriten – for this purpose a special commission was set up – one encountered the “reprisals” that people who entered Turkey would experience, said Ruf. This affects both Turkish citizens and Austrian citizens with a Turkish migration background who live in Austria. According to Raab, there is evidence “that Turkey wants to exert influence in Austria”. She pointed out that there are 500 Turkish and Kurdish associations in Austria.
According to Ruf, there were 207 identity checks related to the riots in Vienna, 37 of the people were officially known, and 42 offenses were reported. Those people who have injured a Kurdish journalist have now been identified.