According to a leaked report, French intelligence has blacklisted certain Turkish diaspora nationalist movements as Turkish state agents provocateurs.
Update (8th February 2016): I had given up on ever getting to the bottom of this story. Prompted by an enquiry from a reader, I revisited this case and found
a post on le Monde, which had been published just after I had given up (30th April 2012). Au Fil du Bosphore makes the convincing case that ‘Maxime Gauin may very well have fabricated this false report himself [Maxime Gauin aurait très bien pu fabriquer ce faux rapport lui-même]’.
Update (5th April 2012): I’ve added Gauin’s comments and evidence; others, such as Doğan News Agency, have also studied the report. It appears that Armenian nationalists forged the document to defame deniers of the Armenian Genocide.
Update (3rd April 2012): Maxime Gauin has led robust questioning of the authenticity of this (alleged) report (see the comments below).
Forgery and defamation
Despite being busy responding to the allegations elsewhere, for example in Zaman France, Maxime Gauin was kind enough to enter into a detailed and evidence-based conversation in the many comments below. Gauin stated that,
The “report” of the DCRI [which is available on Calameo and elsewhere] is a crude forgery, as any careful reader, if he received a French education, can understand. This text does not include the official stamp of the DCRI (which is a legal obligation since 2002 [as Gauin later detailed, ‘reports have to include the stamp of the agency‘]), there is no signature, but there are numerous absurdities and factual errors. The DCRI itself denied to have ordered such a report.
I am not, and I have never been, an agent for any intelligence or counter-intelligence agency.
The persons attacked by this false report and the absurd articles using this “document” as source, are studying the possibilities to sue for defamation and fabrication of forgery.
OK. I am not, and I have never been, a temporary intern in USAK—another error of the “report”. I am a full time researcher in this think-tank. That is true that I have for the moment no personal page on the Internet site of USAK, but it should change soon.
Today’s Zaman did not contact me before it published its allegation. Their journalist did not contact anybody among the persons accused in this “document”….
When I noted Armenews’ report of my report of Today’s Zaman‘s report, Gauin noted that,
The editor-in-chief of Armenews, Jean-Marc Ara Toranian, was the head of the political arm of the Armenian Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia (ASALA, terrorist group) in France from 1976 to 1983…. Not surprisingly, Armenews published about the allegations against me, but not about my replies, or the about the replies of other persons….
I have contacted Armenews, but they have not updated their article, replied or otherwise acknowledged my message.
The French Interior Ministry has ‘denied the allegations of marking [blacklisting] [fişleme iddialarını yalanladı]’; and it has ‘explained that this report had no relationship with the truth/connection with reality [bu raporun gerçekle bir ilişkisi olmadığını açıkladılar]’. French intelligence agencies have insisted that ‘we did not prepare such a report [Böyle bir rapor hazırlamadık]’.
The Turkish Embassy in Paris has accepted the French explanation and blamed a ‘Turkophobia specific to certain extremist circles and based on primitive lies [turcophobie propre à certains milieux extrémistes et fondé sur des mensonges primitifs]’. Seemingly, Armenian nationalist activists forged the French intelligence report in order to defame and discredit deniers of the Armenian Genocide.
My original post remains below.
The spread of the information
An unknown U.S. resident posted a PDF of the intelligence report on a French file-sharing website, Calaméo, on 16th March 2012.
Then the PDF was posted on the Facebook page of a (French) Turkish nationalist website, Radio MIT (Radio Made In Turkey). According to the (paraphrased) report, Radio MIT ‘has ties with the French Turkish Federation and receives financial support from Turkey’. Today’s Zaman said that Radio MIT’s three French-Turkish founders ‘refute[d]’ the allegations, but there is no evidence that they disproved the claims; the radio station’s founders simply denied the claims and removed the PDF.
Then, finally, the information hit the newspapers.
Turkish nationalist movement is a ‘threat to public safety’
The French Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI (1)) considered the thousands of participants in the march against the ban on genocide denial to be a ‘threat to public safety in France…. a threat to the safety of all French citizens, particularly those of Armenian ancestry’. Today’s Zaman paraphrased the French intelligence assessment of the Turkish diaspora thus:
- it is ‘a big, organized community’;
- it sometimes ‘receiv[es] financial support from other countries’; and
- it ‘act[s] in line with orders from the Turkish government’.
Today’s Zaman quoted the intelligence assessment thus:
Turkish foundations are directly and easily mobilized by Turkish intelligence services. Our sources in Ankara confirm that this operation [march] was organized by Turkish intelligence upon orders from the Turkish government.
French Turkish website of Armenian genocide denialism is actually French intelligence astroturf site
Evidently, a supposedly Turkish nationalist, Armenian Genocide denialist website – www.turquie-news.fr – is actually a French anti-nationalist astroturf website. It is used to identify, and gather information on, Turkish nationalist activists. Its administrator is a French intelligence officer, who ‘[went] against [his] education in history’ in order to lobby for the Turks; then he won the confidence of the Turkish nationalist community, got an internship at an Ataturkist think tank in Ankara, and exposed the ‘working principles of our Turkish colleagues and their attitude toward opponents in France – mainly Armenians and Kurds’.
Today’s Zaman‘s anonymous sources allege that International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK (2)) intern, historian Maxime Gauin, is the undercover website administrator.
Gauin has repeatedly published his claims in Hürriyet Daily News, USAK’s Journal of the Turkish Weekly (JTW), etc. Gauin has also intervened in discussions of politicised history and scholarly ethics.
While Maxime Gauin was an MA student, the Municipal Councillor of Villeurbanne, Lyon, and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (HYD (3)) member, Movses Nisanyan, accused Gauin of being ‘like “those who sent Jews to Auschwitz”‘, of committing ‘provocation‘, of being a ‘collaborator‘ in the Armenian Genocide through writing his denialist histories. (In France, there is a partial ban on genocide denial, because it constitutes incitement to hatred; but it does not cover the Armenian Genocide.)
Gauin sued Nisanyan for defamation and won compensation. Gauin stated that he ‘sued Mr. Nissanian to defend my dignity and the freedom of speech, against the political misuse of history’; and that he ‘received no support from Lyon’s Turkish associations for the costs, or any other aspects’ of his court case.
Yet if, if, Gauin is confirmed as the intelligence asset, that raises two key questions:
- Did French intelligence services directly or indirectly fund his nearly-two-years-long court case against Movsès Nissanian?
- Is Gauin’s Ph.D. at Middle East Technical University (METU/ODTÜ (4)) part of the intelligence operation?
French intelligence blacklists, blocks Turkish nationalist groups for violent ultranationalism
French intelligence has blacklisted the French Turk Federation/Turkish Federation of France, because it is ‘the visible face of the sometimes violent ultra-nationalist Gray Wolves’ (5), which are connected with the (equally-ultra) Nationalist Movement Party (MHP (6)).
1: Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI).
2: Uluslararası Stratejik Araştırmalar Kurumu (USAK).
3: Hay Heghapokhagan Tashnagtsutiun/Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsutyun (HYD); Tashnag/Dashnak.
4: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTÜ).
5: ‘kimi zaman şiddete başvuran aşırı milliyetçi Bozkurtların görünen yüzü” olarak tanımladıkları aktarıldı’.
6: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi.