Turkey’s spying imams are proved to have been active also in Romania as an exclusive report has documented case-by-case profiling activities against perceived enemies of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“A memo from Turkey’s Counsellor for Religious Affairs in Bucharest, Osman Kilic, was sent to his boss at the Presidency of Religious Affairs (known as Diyanet) in Ankara on 27 September 2016. …This document includes a list of 11 schools, kindergartens and one university that are part of the Lumina Educational Institutions, which have been active in Romania since 1994,” a recent study by the European Investigative Collaborations revealed.
Lumina is claimed to be founded by the sympathizers of the Gulen movement, which Turkish government accuses of masterminding July 15 coup attempt.
According to the Budapest based Black Sea news portal, the pressure is not only limited to spying activities as Turkish officials in Romania have also been involved in blackmailing, threats, refusal of consular services and etc.
Since July 2016, senior staff at the Lumina schools allege the school has suffered a campaign of persecution and parents have been blackmailed by the local Turkish Embassy. This resulted in 140 children leaving their schools, an article on the news portal said April 1.
“Parents stated that they have been visited by counsellors or diplomats from the Embassy and they told them that if their kids finish their school here, they will not be accepted by universities in Turkey,” a Lumina executive said. “A top diplomatic official even visited one parent in his workplace. The parent could not stand the pressure anymore, and told the executive he had to withdraw his child because ‘they didn’t give me another choice’.”
The news portal said Lumina is closing its Bucharest-based South East Europe University “due to pressure” from the Turkish authorities on its sponsors. “The institution was co-financed by companies from Turkey and Romania. Some of these business owners are now in jail in Turkey,” while Gürsoy adds about the others: “[The Embassy] told them they were supporting terrorism by supporting the university.”
While critical Turkish journalists are receiving death threats from Erdogan supporters, mosques in Bucharest have also been under observation from Diyanet.
Diyanet’s Osman Kilic reportedly told Turkey in the memo that a few the movement-supporting theologians were withdrawn from two mosques in south Bucharest.