Does Switzerland protect Turkish state operatives?
Developments in the case of the Turkish-Swiss police officer who was released shortly after being arrested on charges of espionage for the Turkish state bring this question in mind: Is Switzerland protecting the Turkish state operatives?
There are interesting developments in the case of the Turkish-Swiss police officer Yasin Serin, who was arrested in Basel, Switzerland in April on charges of espionage for the Turkish state but was released shortly after.
With Basler Zeitung newspaper exposing Serin’s espionage activity for the Turkish state, Basel Canton Police and the prosecutor’s office sprung into action and launched an investigation against the agent-police officer Serin on charges of misconduct and espionage for the Turkish state.
According to a former member of the UETD (Union of European Turkish Democrats) Switzerland branch who spoke to the Baseler Zeitung, Serin was secretly obtaining information on people who oppose Erdoğan and the AKP from the computer records of the Basel Police Headquarters and delivered the information to the Turkish state through UETD Switzerland. The newspaper also published a photograph that showed Serin arranging spaces that belong to the Basel Police for use by the UETD Switzerland members.
Following these developments, the Basel Canton Chief Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit against Serin on charges of misconduct and espionage for the Turkish state. Currently Serin is on trial without remand, while the interesting developments in the case bring up important questions.
WHY DID THE BASEL CANTON POLICE CHIEF RESIGN?
Among the issues that stand out is the stage of development in the casefile prepared by Switzerland’s intelligence service warning the Basel Canton Police on Serin’s espionage activity, long before the espionage allegations were made public.
The Basel Canton Police not taking any action until Serin’s espionage activity was leaked to the press, despite warnings from the intelligence service, brings up the question: Was Serin protected?
Only a month after Turkish-Swiss police officer Serin’s espionage for the Turkish state was exposed, Basel Canton Police Chief Gerhart Lips announced his resignation.
It has been 2 months since the resignation, but the Police Chief Lips has still not made a statement on what the resignation reasons were exactly. It is believed that Serin’s espionage activity for the Turkish state under his command being exposed is among the reasons for Lips’ resignation.
WHAT WAS THE PROSECUTOR’S DECISION DESPITE CLEAR EVIDENCE?
It has been detected as part of the investigation that Serin has accessed the private information of 160 people who are against Erdoğan and the AKP on Basel Police computers. Photographs leaked to the press also showed Serin arranged meetings for UETD members in the Basel Police Headquarters and was active in the UETD Switzerland branch.
Despite the clear evidence, the Basel Canton Prosecutor’s Office recently announced that “no espionage activity for the Turkish state by Serin was detected” and decided to only charge Serin with misconduct.
The prosecutor’s office didn’t release names for the 160 people whose information was accessed by Serin, but sent the people in question letters in private informing them of their right to sue Serin.
WHAT DO EXPERTS SAY?
Springing into action after reactions to Serin’s espionage activity being exposed, Basel Canton Parliament demanded an inquiry by experts to shed light on the matter.
Dr. Felix Uhlmann from the University of Zurich was appointed to conduct the inquiry, and stated in a report he prepared that the Basel Canton Police had committed gross negligence regarding Yasin Serin, who is alleged to have engaged in espionage activity for the Turkish state.
Uhlmann pointed out in the report that the Basel Canton Police was insufficient in protecting the personal information of citizens and also stated that the Basel Canton Police didn’t sufficiently fulfill their duties in exposing Serin’s espionage activity.
Uhlmann’s report included a detailed section on how necessary precautions were not taken despite the Switzerland Intelligence Service’s warning against Serin that he is an Erdoğan sympathizer and should be monitored.
WERE THE OFFICER’S TIES WITH THE UETD INVESTIGATED?
Serin’s posts on his social media accounts before he was put on trial showed him in a close relationship with UETD Switzerland officials. A photograph taken in a UETD meeting held in the police headquarters also showed Serin in a close relationship with the UETD Switzerland Chairperson Murat Şahin.
Another anonymous source who spoke to the Basler Zeitung said Serin sent the information he acquired to the Turkish state via the UETD and Turkish consulates.
Despite Serin’s relationship with the UETD being exposed, Swiss prosecutors have still not launched any inquiries on UETD officials or other UETD members who held meetings in spaces owned by the police, which begs the question why.
“NOT JUST ONE PERSON”
A Swiss politician who spoke to the ANF on condition of anonymity stated that there is not just one person engaging in espionage activity for the Turkish state and stressed that Swiss authorities should carefully investigate the matter further. The politician said there is a high chance that the persons engaged in espionage activity for Turkey work for certain institutions and stressed that the pro-AKP institutions and Switzerland Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation activities should be monitored closely.