‘Turkey could not convince us of Gulen involvement in coup’: German intelligence chief

President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, Bruno Kahl.

The President of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, has called Turkey’s failed coup attempt “a welcome excuse” for the country’s government to enact anti-democratic measures.

In an interview with German Der Spiegel, republished on Spiegel Online on Saturday, the intelligence boss said, “What we consider as the results of the coup would have happened anyway – maybe not to this extent and with this radicality.”

Kahl also said Ankara had not provided any evidence proving that the Gulenist Movement had orchestrated the coup in July 2016, a claim vociferously defended by the Turkish government.

“Turkey tried to convince us on different levels. They haven’t succeeded yet,” he said.

Kahl also rejected Turkey’s classification of the Gulen movement, led by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, as being an Islamic-extremist or terrorist organisation.

“The Gulen movement is a civil association striving for religious and secular education.”

The former politician accused Turkey’s President Erdogan of having used the coup attempt as excuse to “dismiss hundreds of thousands of public officials and detain thousands of people.”

Relations between Berlin and Ankara have been tense since the imprisonment of Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yucel on charges of terrorism and espionage. German authorities have accused Turkish clerics employed by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs of spying on alleged Gulenists living in Germany.

Relations further soured when Germany banned Turkish rallies in support of the government’s constitutional reform bid, leading Erdogan to repeatedly draw comparisons to practices during Nazi rule in Germany.

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers and their relatives have requested asylum status in Germany since the coup attempt, according to German authorities.

Kahl’s comments will come as a further blow to bilateral ties as Turkey drifts further away from the EU according to analysts.

View Kom News infographic on the aftermath of the coup here.