ISTANBUL—German and Turkish officials are said to be investigating explosive claims by the Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who on Wednesday asserted that he was in possession of intelligence suggesting that Turkish citizens in Europe, including academics, journalists, politicians, Armenians and opinion leaders from the opposition ranks were targets of assassination plots.
The Hurriyet Daily News reported Friday that following Paylan’s remarks, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the claims, calling on the HDP deputy to testify as a witness on the issue.
German authorities have also stated that law enforcement agents are aware of “the danger situation,” state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Dec. 22.
The officers are conducting an investigation with “the utmost sensitivity” but have ruled out providing any details or protection measures regarding Paylan’s intelligence, according to Deutsche Welle’s report.
“I received intelligence last week over plans to assassinate several Turkish citizens living in Europe, especially in Germany. I have verified the information from multiple sources,” Paylan said at the press conference on Wednesday, signaling a “Turkey-based group” that could mobilize certain assassins for the plot.
“Thousands of academics, journalists and politicians have been forced to live in Europe because of the political atmosphere in Turkey,” Paylan said, referring to the arrests, court cases and job dismissals that took place with state of emergency decrees imposed in the wake of the July 15, 2016, military coup attempt in Turkey. He also claimed that three assassins were assigned by a “secret structure,” similar to Ogün Samast, who killed journalist Hrant Dink on Jan. 19, 2007 in broad daylight in Istanbul.
Paylan said a hate campaign smearing Dink of “being a traitor” had been launched to psychologically prepare the public for his murder.
In an interview with the Hurriyet Daily News published on Friday, Paylan said he thought such a structure could be made up of “those who assumed personal missions encouraged by the current political atmosphere in Turkey, or something even more serious than that.”
He said it could also consist of people who were seeking an opportunity to carry out another coup attempt or wanted to further distance Turkey from the EU and the West.
Police officers on duty at the time of Dink’s murder have recently been arrested; they have alleged links to the illegal network of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher accused of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt.
When asked whether he was suspicious of the Gülen network of being behind the assassination, Paylan said he did not have adequate information to confirm that, but regarding the Dink murder he said, “Those who made the decision to kill him were part of a secret structure in security institutions and there were Gülenists within it who were aware that Dink would be killed but did nothing to stop it, in order to create more hostility in the political atmosphere.”
Paylan urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, political figures and journalists to stop using the language currently used against dissidents and halt targeting them in order not to let the political antagonism to escalate, which could lead to similar consequences, “God forbid.”