Ankara denies exposing Israeli spies to Tehran
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has ruled out a US newspaper report that Ankara revealed an Israeli spy ring working with Iranians on its soil to the authorities in Tehran.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had last year revealed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting in Turkey with Mossad handlers.
But Davutoglu said the allegations were “without any foundation”.
“[Turkish intelligence chief Hakan] Fidan and other security agents report only to the Turkish government and the parliament,” he said.
The allegation angered officials in Ankara, already on the defensive after a Wall Street Journal article last week suggested Washington was concerned that Fidan had shared sensitive information with Iran.
Other officials in Ankara, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the article as part of an attempt to discredit Turkey by foreign powers uncomfortable with its growing influence in the Middle East.
“Turkey is a regional power and there are power centers which are uncomfortable with this… Stories like these are part of a campaign,” a Turkish official said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin declined to comment on the report, but said relations with Turkey were “very complex.”
“The Turks made a strategic decision … to seek the leadership of our region, in the Middle East, and they chose the convenient anti-Israeli card in order to build up leadership,” he told Israel Radio.
The relationship hit the rocks in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists seeking to break Israel’s long-standing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged area.