The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the U.S. Embassy chargé d’affaires over German magazine Der Spiegel’s claims that the United States and United Kingdom have been spying on Turkey for years. “For the reasons that the United States’ name was mentioned, and such claims were made … the charge d’affaires has been called to the foreign ministry and information has been received from him,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters after the first meeting of the new Cabinet on Sept. 1, referring to Washington’s most senior diplomat in Ankara. “We asked for an explanation,” Arınç said, without further elaborating.
German magazine Der Spiegel’s claimed on Aug. 31 that both the U.S.’s NSA and the GCHQ of the U.K. have been spying on Turkey for years. The story was a follow-up to another claim that Germany’s intelligence agency had also been eavesdropping on Turkey for years. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also issued a written statement urging Washington to give a “satisfactory explanation.” “The U.S. is expected to investigate the said claims and, if they are true, to end its activities directed against our state institutions and foreign missions,” the statement said, adding that Ankara’s expectations were conveyed to the U.S. envoy during the meeting. “In the case of the claims being accurate, it is obvious these kinds of activities can in no way be accepted and do not comply with friendship and alliance relations,” the statement added. Ankara did not summon the British envoy, since the Foreign Ministry asked for an explanation from the ambassador last year regarding allegations of eavesdropping on Minister Mehmet Şimşek, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News. Meanwhile, British Embassy officials in Ankara declined to comment on the reports. “We have a very simple policy in the UK, which we have for many decades. That is on any intelligence matters, we don’t comment. We neither confirm nor deny policy,” British Ambassador Richard Moore told the Hürriyet Daily News Erdoğan downplays claims The development came as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to address the United States and the United Kingdom leaders about the claims. “I will openly discuss [this issue] with leaders first at the NATO Summit and then at the United Nations [General Assembly],” Erdoğan told reporters at the press conference he held before departing to northern Cyprus.
Erdoğan is expected to hold bilateral meetings with some Western leaders at this week’s NATO Summit in Wales, but it is not yet clear whether this includes talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Erdoğan did not openly name the leaders he will talk with about these claims, but he referred to the countries’ whose secret agencies have been the subject of the allegations. Despite the seriousness of the claims, Erdoğan seemed to downplay the situation, as he said “There is no such thing as countries with strong intelligence agencies not eavesdropping on other countries. Everybody does this.” Erdoğan recalled the feud between Germany and the U.S. over the latter’s attempts to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and described the process between the two agencies as “settling accounts.” “However,” Erdoğan said, “what is important is how is [this spying] being carrying out and what [information] is being revealed.”