The Turkish government has used its diplomats in Mozambique to profile opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gather intelligence about them to help forge a criminal case against his critics in Turkey.
Court documents confirmed that 23 Turkish nationals had been profiled by Turkish diplomats and reported to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. The information was later used in a terrorism indictment by a Turkish prosecutor.
According to a December 18, 2018 decision by Prosecutor Adem Akıncı, the Ankara General Prosecutor’s Office opened a separate investigation (Case No. 2018/43629) into Turkish nationals who were included in files sent by Turkish diplomats without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. According to the documents, they were accused of “belonging to a terrorist group” by Akıncı.
A court document dated December 18, 2018 reveals espionage of critics by Turkish diplomatic missions. (Addresses and names of Turkish nationals have been redacted for security reasons.):
The profiling documents were sent to Ankara by Zeynep Kızıltan, Turkey’s ambassador to Mozambique between 2016 and 2021.
Critics of the Erdoğan government abroad, especially members of the Hizmet/Gülen movement, have been subjected to surveillance, harassment, death threats and kidnappings since President Erdoğan decided to make the group the scapegoat for his own legal problems. They were often denied consular services such as power of attorney and birth registration, as well as the revocation of their passports. Their assets in Turkey are being seized and their family members back home face criminal charges.
In 2018, a request by the Turkish government to arrest and extradite an education volunteer affiliated with the Hizmet movement, named on the above list sent by the embassy in Ankara, was rejected by Mozambican authorities. According to Turkish government documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, the steps taken by the Turkish ambassador in Maputo for the expulsion of Mehmet Ali Çoban, a prominent businessman living in Mozambique, were rejected by the Mozambican service of ‘INTERPOL.
Çoban has been accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime of supporting the Willow International School in Mozambique, considered by many to be the most prestigious secondary school in the country. In fact, he donated for the construction of a new school building, the opening ceremony of which brought together national and local politicians, senior officials and diplomats in 2011.
Nordic Monitor previously published a statement dated September 16, 2016 that then-Turkish Ambassador to Mozambique Aylin Taşhan, Turkey’s first envoy to the country, sent to the headquarters in Ankara, which included information illegally collected by employees of the Turkish Embassy. The intelligence cable included the names and identities of President Erdoğan’s critics as well as the institutions and organizations created by these people.
Secret document from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs which reveals numerous espionage activities in Mozambique:
Those spied on are believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, a group that criticizes the Turkish government for a number of reasons, from endemic corruption in the administration to Erdoğan’s complicity with armed jihadist groups in other countries.
The document, dated September 16, 2016, listed the names of 32 people as well as the Willow International School. Several Turkish-run companies such as DECO Construction Limitada, Turkmall Limitada, Isparta Construction Limitada, Ilhas da Paz and others were also described in the intelligence document.