Austria expels alleged Turkish spy

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Jeddah – Yasmine El Tohamy – VIENNA: AN Italian man of Turkish origin who claimed to have been tasked with killing public figures in Austria has been expelled from the country, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Feyyaz Ozturk, 53, turned himself in to the Austrian intelligence services last year.
According to former MP Berivan Aslan who is active on Kurdish issues, Ozturk had been charged with assassinating her and two others who had expressed views critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The authorities considered him to be an imminent danger to public security and he was taken to the Italian border before Christmas,” Ozturk’s lawyer Veronika Ujvarosi told AFP.
Prosecutors confirmed that they had opened an investigation against Ozturk in September and subsequently charged him with conducting “military espionage on behalf of a foreign state.”
He risks up to two years in jail if convicted.
Ozturk’s trial is scheduled for February 4, Vienna’s criminal court confirmed Tuesday.
According to local press reports, Ozturk had admitted to investigators that he gave false testimony to a Turkish court in a case which ended in the conviction of an employee at the US consulate in Istanbul last June on terror charges.
As Ozturk could no longer be held in pre-trial detention, authorities decided to expel him rather than allow him to remain on Austrian soil, Ujvarosi said.
“My client is well and he would like to return to Austria,” she said, adding that she had asked for a temporary lifting of his ban from Austria so that he can attend his trial.
Aslan told AFP this week that she was still under police protection, first extended to her when the plot allegations came to light last year.
Turkish authorities have vehemently denied any connection to Ozturk.
A neutral country which plays host to a wide range of international organizations, Austria has a reputation as a center of espionage.
However, allegations of plots such as that involving Ozturk have been rare.

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