A total of 20 Turkish citizens are facing an investigation on charges of spying on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a report in the German Die Welt daily on Thursday.

Responding to a motion from Sevim Dağdelen, a member of the Left Party, the German government said investigations are being conducted into 20 people for carrying out spying activities on followers of the Gülen movement based on the directives of the Turkish government.

Commenting on the German government’s response, Dağdelen told Die Welt that Turkish imams who were involved in spying activities in Germany were able to avoid investigation by fleeing the country.

Tensions rose between Turkey and Germany over operations against Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) imams who were claimed to be spying on Gülen movement people.

In February, the coordinator of DİTİB, Murat Kayman, announced his resignation over the allegations.

In the same month, German police teams raided the apartments of four DİTİB imams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who are suspected of acting as informants.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said in a statement that the imams had acted on an order issued on Sept. 20 of last year by the directorate to profile Gülen movement sympathizers.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15. It strongly denies the charge.

(Turkish Minute)