AMSTERDAM Dec 14 The Netherlands said on
Wednesday it would challenge every instance of the "long arm" of
Ankara extending to its territory, after a report the Turkish
embassy had sent home a list of Dutch Turks who might have
sympathized with July's failed coup.
The Dutch foreign minister summoned Turkey's ambassador in
The Hague after a report in De Telegraaf newspaper citing Yusuf
Acar, who is both a diplomat and the chairman of the Dutch arm
of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, as acknowledging
he had compiled the list of "Gulenists".
Ankara accuses supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen
of backing the short-lived coup in which over 240 people were
killed. In Turkey, over 100,000 people have been detained,
suspended or sacked from judiciary, media and civil service and
tensions have spread within the 500,000 Dutch-Turkish community,
with some suspected Gulenist sympathizers facing death threats.
In a statement, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said
the Telegraaf report was "worrying."
"We're going to ask for clarification about this," Koenders
"In addition, we are going to engage with the Turkish
authorities and the Diyanet organization in Ankara. That's part
of our policy of challenging every incident that concerns the
"long arm" with our Turkish counterparts."
Acar told De Telegraaf that he had assembled the list from
publicly available sources in his capacity as an employee of the
Turkish Embassy, and not as leader of the religious affairs
directorate, the Diyanet.
Koenders said that "if true, that means the combination of a
diplomatic status with the chairmanship of Diyanet is
As recently as Friday, the Dutch Diyanet had issued a press
statement denying any involvement with "collecting information
on Gulenist sympathizers".
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by Ralph Boulton)