A Turkish court has handed down a prison sentence to a Syrian spy, and a Turkish national who helped him, on charges of spying on Syrian refugees and their camps in Turkey.
The 8th Adana High Criminal Court delivered its decision on Wednesday and sentenced Sbahi Hamdo, a Syrian professor teaching at the Faculty of Medicine at Aleppo University, to 12 years and six months in prison.
In his final hearing on Wednesday, Hamdo claimed that he is innocent and that he came to Hatay to locate a relative from Aleppo who went missing. His suspected accomplice, Turkish citizen Mürsel A., did not attend the hearing.
Hamdo claimed that there is no evidence that incriminates him and demanded his release. Mürsel A. also rejected all allegations leveled against him in his final defense.
Hamdo and Mürsel A. were recently brought to trial facing 20 years imprisonment for conducting espionage as part of a plot last year to kidnap Syrian generals who had defected from the army and fled to Turkey because of the violence in war-torn Syria.
Reports claimed that Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which had received information about the plan to kidnap the generals -- including Free Syrian Army (FSA) founder Lt. Col. Hussein al-Harmoush's brother, İbrahim al-Harmoush -- informed the Hatay Police Department. Col. Hussein al-Harmoush is the most senior army officer to have defected from Syria.
It is claimed that Hamdo, who works for the Mukhabarat (the Syrian national intelligence agency) and has the nickname “Doctor,” was sent to Turkey to spy on and kidnap the generals. The reports said Hamdo was caught red-handed last year while he was giving the list of the generals to be kidnapped to a Turkish construction worker.
Reports claim that Hamdo had collected information about Syrians staying in the Apaydın camp in Hatay, where Turkey shelters only Syrian army defectors and their families.
The Adana court sentenced Hamdo on charges of “obtaining state information for the purposes of political and military espionage.” Mürsel A. was given six years and three months for helping Hamdo.
An indictment prosecutors prepared regarding the suspects claimed that Hamdo came to Hatay several times and took photos of Syrian refugee camps, bridges, avenues and squares in downtown Hatay as well as of military facilities in the Yayladağı district.
The indictment also claimed that security forces seized a list of names of Syrian refugees in Turkey when Hamdo was captured. It is also claimed that he had plans to pay some unemployed people and drug addicts to attack Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with stones during a future visit to Hatay.