Data allegations Basel policeman suspected of spying for Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cracked down on critics

(Keystone)

Basel police have arrested one of their workers accused of passing to a third party internal data on people who had criticised Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The police force analysed some 3,000 sets of data and concluded that the man had called up police data that “with a high probability was not connected to his job”, said the police and justice department of canton Basel City on Thursday.

The man was arrested and “since there was talk of criminal offences” his case was passed to public prosecutor’s office, which is investigating abuse of position and violation of official secrecy.

On Saturday, the Basler Zeitung newspaper had accused the man, who worked as a security assistant in the transport department and therefore was not entitled to carry a gun, of calling up data on opponents of Erdogan and of handing this information to people close to the Turkish government.

Known to the authorities

The man had already come to the authorities’ attention last summer. The cantonal and federal intelligence services informed the Basel police that one of their employees had been noted online for his pro-Erdogan activities. Basel police had decided at the time not to mount an inquiry into possible espionage owing to a lack of evidence.

The cantonal justice department said the man had admitted only to using a meeting room in the cantonal armoury in 2014 and 2015 for private gatherings, which he said was permitted.

The justice department did not say whether the man was a Turkish citizen or a Turk who had taken Swiss citizenship.

He can be held for 48 hours, after which time concrete grounds for an arrest must be presented. Should further evidence of intelligence activity or other crimes of a federal nature come forth, the Office of the Attorney General could get involved.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts

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