Turkish intel officer arrested for abducting Syrian defector

Hüseyin Mustafa HarmuşBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There seems to be no end in sight to the troubles of Turkey’s spy service. According to reports from Ankara, an employee of the country’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has been arrested for orchestrating the abduction of a leading Syrian military defector, who had sought refuge in Turkey. According to authorities in Ankara, the MİT employee, who has been identified only by his initials, Ö.S., had been under surveillance for nearly half a year, along with four of his collaborators. Last week, Turkish police arrested Ö.S. in connection with the abduction of Colonel Hüseyin Mustafa Harmuş, one of the most senior Syrian military officials to have defected to the opposition, and the founder of the Free Syrian Army. Harmuş, who defected from the Syrian military in June of 2011, had crossed the border into Turkey and was living in a camp set up and supervised by the Turkish government in Hatay, a province in south-central Turkey. Following his defection, Harmuş became one of the most vocal and media-savvy members of the Syrian opposition, frequently directing strong public criticism of the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government responded by declaring Harmuş a traitor and offering a $100,000 reward for his capture. Then, all of a sudden, Harmuş disappeared without a trace on August 29. After a detailed investigation, Turkish authorities found that Ö.S. had assembled a team of four people who collaborated to kidnap Harmuş, deliver him to the Syrian government, and pocket the hefty reward. By utilizing his access to Turkish government communications, Ö.S. forged a letter authorizing him permission to escort Harmuş to another camp in Turkey’s Anatolia region. Upon gaining custody of the Syrian defector, Ö.S. delivered him to two of his collaborators, who in turn handed him over to the Syrian authorities. Following the abduction, Ö.S. waited for several months before traveling to Syria by car on February 3, in order to collect the $100,000 reward from the Syrian government. According to reports, Turkish authorities arrested him immediately upon his return to the country from Syria. An article in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet states that several bundles of American currency were found hidden in secret compartments in the trunk of Ö.S.’s car. The paper also said that four of Ö.S.’s alleged collaborators were arrested by Turkish authorities. Meanwhile it is believed that Harmuş was executed by the Syrian government.

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