Turkish police arrest suspected Iranian agent in Ankara protests
Turkish police have arrested, among others, an Iranian national named Shayan Shamloo in connection with violent demonstrations in the Turkish capital that followed what was initially a peaceful environmental protest at Gezi Park in İstanbul.
According to a source in the government who wanted to remain anonymous because of the pending investigation into violent events held in a couple of locations in Ankara, the Iranian national was suspected to have played a provocateur role.
The same source also told Today's Zaman that authorities suspect Mr. Shamloo has connections with the Iranian intelligence. Police have reportedly arrested some 15 foreign nationals across the country in connection with events and most of them have turned out to be Iranian nationals.
The pro-government Star daily reported on Tuesday that another Iranian national named Ramin Sarabi (AKA Rıza) was arrested in Erzurum on charges of leading a plot to attack a delegation of the wise man group, which has been tasked with canvassing the province of Erzurum province to feel the pulse of the people regarding the resolution process with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
According to the investigation by the public prosecutor's office in Erzurum, Sarabi is believed to have links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on foreign meddling into protests on Monday, saying that Turkish intelligence officials are working to determine whether there is any foreign link to the ongoing protests.
"Our intelligence work is ongoing [to establish foreign links to the protests]. It is not possible to reveal their names. But we will have meetings with their heads," he told reporters.
Interpretation of Erdoğan's remarks indicate that he will likely raise the spy issues with Iran, a country that has deep disagreements with Turkey in Syria, Iraq and other regional issues.
On Sunday, Erdoğan criticized Iran and Hezbollah for participating in the fighting in Syria with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that the open support to the Syrian regime is working against Iran and Hezbollah in the Middle East and Islamic world.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said on Tuesday the ensuing violent protests have cost the country over TL 70 million. He said the police has identified 11 illegal groups that are involved in the violent protests.
The Taksim incidents started last Thursday where a group of environmentalists had gathered in Gezi Park to protest government plans to build a replica of the Topçu Barracks in the park as part of the Taksim rejuvenation project. Hundreds joined the group after the police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse them.
Last year, Turkish intelligence uncovered an Iranian spy-ring in Turkey and nine people -- some Turkish citizens -- were arrested on charges of gathering strategic intelligence for Iran, as well as exchanging intelligence and know-how and coordinating activities with the PKK. The trial is still continuing in Erzurum court.