Turkish intelligence (MIT) says it has uncovered a spy network linked to the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, according to Turkish media reports on Tuesday. The network allegedly operated within Turkey and consisted of 15 individuals.
The investigation led to the arrest of 11 members, who reportedly were trained in Israel and sent to Turkey with the aim of establishing a company involved in trading with Iran.
Reports from Turkey suggest that the network's activities, carried out over a period of 18 months, focused on espionage against 23 individuals who had commercial ties to Iran.
Furthermore, it has been disclosed that a manhunt is currently underway in Turkey to locate two additional suspects believed to be associated with the network.
Reports from Turkey indicate that the Mossad, in collaboration with security personnel associated with exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, allegedly played a role in establishing the recently exposed spy network.
What makes this accusation noteworthy is that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused Gülen of orchestrating the failed coup attempt against him in 2016.
Reports suggest the head of the spy network operating in Turkey received direct instructions from Mossad operatives. The head of the network engaged in face-to-face meetings with Mossad officials in various European countries, according to reports.
These meetings included several tests administered by the operatives to assess his capabilities.
The report suggests that, after the fifth meeting, the Mossad approached the head of the network with an offer to serve as a spy. Subsequently, he established communication with the Mossad through a clandestine communication system.
It is alleged that he provided the Mossad with collected information regarding individuals under surveillance, including details such as entry and exit records to Turkey, phone numbers, bank accounts and more.
The head of the spy network, along with another suspect, was apprehended by authorities two months ago. The remaining members of the network were reportedly arrested by Istanbul police on Monday.
In December, a report in the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah disclosed that 44 individuals were interrogated based on suspicions of spying on Palestinian exiles on behalf of the Mossad.
Four individuals were subsequently arrested. The operation in Istanbul involved the active participation of the local police and Turkey's National Intelligence Organization. The detainees underwent questioning over allegations that they divulged information about the Palestinian exiles.
According to the report, the apprehended individuals were associated with "consulting companies" located in Istanbul. These entities purportedly provided private investigation services to clients and had established communication with the Mossad over a period of time.
The Turkish sources claim that the Mossad paid the suspects for monitoring activities concerning Palestinians and non-governmental organizations.
The decisive second round of the Turkish presidential elections looms. Recent developments have brought favorable news to incumbent Erdogan, positioning him strongly for another five year term in office.
Sinan Ogan, who secured the third position in the initial round and subsequently withdrew from the race, on Monday declared his support for Erdogan in the upcoming vote, dealing a significant blow to the prospects of the opposition leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
This endorsement carries substantial implications for the electoral landscape and significantly impacts the dynamics of the race.