Turkish diplomats used the US Homeland Security website to track dissidents in the US | Techno Glob

Abdullah Bozkert/Stockholm

Turkish diplomats spied on an American resident critical of Turkey’s Islamist government and obtained his travel records in North America by accessing the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

According to a confidential Turkish Foreign Ministry document dated February 26, 2018 and classified as secret, Turkish diplomats used the website of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a federal law enforcement agency that is part of the US Department of Homeland Security. Get a track record of medical doctors and academics known for innovative research in endocrinology.

The doctor, whose name was redacted by Nordic Monitor for security reasons, has been targeted for his political views on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his alleged affiliation with the Gulen movement, a group that opposes and criticizes Erdogan. regime on a range of issues, from corruption to Turkey aiding and abetting armed jihadist groups.

The 53-year-old doctor faced a politically motivated criminal trial in 2015 and was forced to move to the US, where he previously lived and worked at prestigious institutions including Harvard University. Had he remained in Turkey, he would have been wrongfully imprisoned.

Turkish government documents that reveal how Turkish diplomats accessed US Homeland Security websites to track dissidents in the US:


But that did not stop the Turkish government from looking for him, and Turkish diplomats – some agents of the Turkish intelligence agency MIT under diplomatic cover – were ordered to track him down in the US and report his activities to headquarters in Ankara.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry document details information collected on him on US soil. In addition to classified information collected in the US, the classified document refers to information obtained from the CBP website, which serves visitors to the US to obtain entry and exit records for personal use.

CBP’s website clarifies that all data accessed is the property of the US Government and is provided for official US Government purposes and use, and it specifically emphasizes that those authorized to use the site may do so for personal, non-commercial purposes. Just the purpose. It warns that foreign government officials must go through established channels to obtain information about an individual, not through a service provided to visitors to the US for personal use.

Any violation may violate 18 US Code § 1030 and other criminal statutes and may result in civil and/or criminal liability, the website warns for any user seeking access to US government data.

US Homeland Security Warning on Terms of Use for Visitors Accessing the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Website to Obtain Travel Records:


Still, that didn’t deter Turkish officials from using CBP systems to collect information on the targeted doctor and gain access to his travel records using his passport number and other identifying information about him. Data pulled from CPB’s site showed the doctor entered the US on December 9, 2015 on a B1 visa, exited the US from New York on January 21, 2016, traveled to Canada, and then returned to Boston in June 2017.

Information gathered by Turkish diplomats was sent to the Ministry of Justice in Turkey and added to the criminal case file against him.

According to another Turkish Foreign Ministry document, marked secret and dated February 19, 2018, Turkish diplomats spied on the doctor’s son. The document referred to intelligence sent by the Turkish consulate in Toronto to its headquarters in Ankara and provided detailed information about the boy’s location in Boston and New York.

Another document, signed by Murat Erdem, head of the Ministry of Justice’s Directorate General of International Law and Foreign Relations, on 30 May 2015 and circulated to other branches of government, discusses how to best use information collected about doctors. Erdem, who worked as a legal adviser at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC, suggested it would be better to request his extradition from the US before applying to Interpol for a red notice for his arrest. He recommended the steps the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office should take when preparing an extradition request from the US.

Instructions on how to obtain travel records from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for personal use:


Over the past decade, Turkish embassies and consulates have become instruments of espionage in the hands of Turkey’s Islamist rulers. Turkish diplomats and consuls around the world have systematically spied on President Erdogan’s critics, profiling their organizations and listing their names as if they were part of a terrorist organization.

Nordic Monitor previously published confidential Turkish government documents that revealed how Turkish embassies and consulates conducted 4,386 reviews abroad in 2016-2017 and confirmed that information gathered by Turkish diplomats was used by Turkish prosecutors to launch criminal investigations against those dissidents.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent the lists of Turkish citizens profiled in two CDs to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the National Police and Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT for further administrative or legal action, through an official document for the punishment of their relatives, on 19 February 2018. in Turkey and confiscate their property.

In February 2021, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed covert espionage operations by Turkish diplomats on foreign soil. Çavuşoğlu said the government has officially instructed Turkish diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates to carry out such activities abroad.

The Turkish government has also benefited from pro-Erdogan networks and organizations of the Turkish diaspora. Over the years, Turkish diaspora organizations have been accused of acting as the long arm of the Erdogan regime in the West, and some of them have been monitored by local intelligence agencies.

U.S. authorities took legal action against Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a 44-year-old Turkish government activist who was indicted by U.S. federal prosecutors when he tried to conduct surveillance on Erdogan’s opponents in the U.S. Alptekin remains a fugitive and is currently hiding in Turkey, while his colleague Bijan Rafikian was tried and convicted in 2019 of secretly working as a Turkish government agent in the US without disclosing his ties to the US government.

Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman, has been indicted in the US for running a covert operation on behalf of the Turkish government.

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