Germany has dropped an espionage investigation into Turkish imams, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday.
The probe into 19 imams focused on their alleged role against suspected supporters of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Germany. FETO orchestrated last year’s coup attempt in Turkey that led to the deaths of 250 people.
The prosecutor’s office said the inquiry had been dropped due to a lack of evidence and because seven of the imams had left the country.
“The Chief Federal Prosecutor has dropped investigations opened against suspected informants of Turkey on suspicion of secret service activity,” spokeswoman Frauke Kohler said.
She added that prosecutors could not find sufficient evidence following an extensive examination of computers and other materials seized in February.
Early this year, several newspapers claimed that more than a dozen imams from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) had spied on FETO suspects in Germany on behalf of the Turkish government.
DITIB, a moderate Muslim organization founded by Turkish migrants, denied the claims and said they formed a campaign by FETO to discredit the union. As the largest Muslim institution in Germany, DITIB runs more than 800 mosques and has been prominent in promoting religious dialogue, education and integration.
FETO supporters, also known as Gulenists after the group’s U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen, have established roots among Germany’s 3 million-plus Turkish population.
The group has set up schools, businesses and media outlets, which it previously used to attack DITIB.
FETO has carried out a long-running campaign in Turkey in an attempt to control the state through the infiltration of institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Gulen is currently being tried in absentia in Turkey for his leading role in the attempted coup.