PKK identifies alleged Turkish spies it captured last year

The Kurdish group said the men, "high-level" officials from Turkey's spy agency, were under direct orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to assassinate its senior leaders.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Wednesday released the pictures and names of two men who it said were agents of Turkish intelligence it captured near the Sulaimani Province of the Kurdistan Region in August last year.

A statement by the PKK said the men, identified as Aydin Gunel and Erhan Pekcetin, were “high-level” officials of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) who were under direct orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to assassinate senior leaders of the armed group, including one of its founders and top commander Cemil Bayik.

The PKK said Pekcetin was the head of the MIT department to monitor ethnic separatism whereas Gunel was the director for human resources at home and abroad.

“A huge blow has hit Tayyip Erdogan’s genocidal assaults on the Kurdish people,” a statement on the Kurdish Firat news agency read.

The statement added that the operation to seize the spies was named after Sakine Cansiz, another PKK founder assassinated after being shot in the head along with two other women in the French capital of Paris four years ago.

There were at least two other senior MIT agents in the PKK’s hands, the group said, adding those that were held captive were at no point maltreated.

The Ankara government has kept complete silence over the whole affair, despite opposition parties’ insistent requests for an explanation from Erdogan and his spy chief Hakan Fidan.

However, shortly after the capture of its spies, the Turkish government expelled Behruz Galali, the representative of the Kurdistan Region’s third largest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), in Ankara, over alleged collaboration with the PKK.

In September 2017, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu appeared to acknowledge the capture of MIT operatives, stating in an interview with Middle East affairs commentary website Al-Monitor that his country had no contacts with the PKK to secure their release.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany