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After Spy Arrest Report, Public Safety Minister Doesn’t Deny Canadian Spooks Are Operating in Turkey

Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney exclusively told VICE Canada, "I believe CSIS is operating in a region where there is potential high-risk travellers."

by Ben Makuch
Mar 12 2015, 9:12pm

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

After a report from a Turkish daily newspaper alleged a Canadian intelligence agent is in the custody of the Turkish government, long suspected of supporting ISIS in its war in Syria and Iraq, Canadian authorities were mum on details.

While the government hasn't confirmed specifics, they are willing to say that the individual is neither Canadian nor a Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy. Though when asked if CSIS were operating in countries like Turkey, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney exclusively told VICE Canada, "I believe CSIS is operating in a region where there is potential high-risk travellers."

It's well known that the corridor between Turkey and Syria is the major trafficking point for foreign fighters joining up with ISIS.

One alleged Canadian fighter told VICE in June that the Turkish border with Syria is where foreigners join the militant organization in its fight against Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces.

While declining to comment on specifics due to operational security, Blaney maintains that any activities CSIS is engaged in "have been conducted respecting Canadian laws."

The news report comes on the heels of expanded foreign spying powers for CSIS and the advent of bill C-51, legislation which promises to bolster the legal capabilities of law enforcement agencies to surveill and arrest terrorist threats within Canada.

According to the Daily Sabah, Turkish authorities arrested a Canadian linked agent after the individual, currently detained, helped three British girls join the ranks of the Islamic State.

Speaking to Turkish television on the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq from the Turkish border, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu accused a member of a foreign intelligence service of helping to ferry those British girls into the war zones of northern Syria.

"We were informed by Britain about three girls who left to join ISIS a few days after they departed for Turkey," said Çavuşoğlu during the interview. "This person was working for the intelligence service of a country participating in the coalition against ISIS. This country is not the United States or a member of the European Union. I told this to the British foreign secretary and he replied 'as usual.'"

The Daily Sabah reports that several Turkish media outlets claim the individual currently in detention is a Canadian, while it is known that the current coalition against ISIS includes Canada, Australia, and other Arab countries within the region.

Turkish diplomatic officials in Canada have not confirmed or denied the reports to VICE Canada, citing a lack of reliable intel, while a Reuters reporter has a source confirming the agent's links to CSIS.

VICE Canada has reached out to Tahera Mufti, spokesperson for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), but they have yet to respond.

With additional reporting from Justin Ling.

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