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Dec 6, 6:23 AM EST

Germany drops Turkish espionage probe of clerics


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BERLIN (AP) -- German prosecutors say they've dropped an espionage investigation against seven people, largely Islamic clerics, who were suspected of spying on opponents of the Turkish government.

The federal prosecutors' office said Wednesday it had found insufficient evidence to pursue a case against the seven. Judges previously refused to issue arrest warrants against the suspects, who prosecutors said have since left Germany. Their current whereabouts are unclear.

The case largely involved clerics affiliated with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, or DITIB, whom German officials suspected of collecting for the Turkish government's office for religious affairs information on alleged supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. He is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a coup attempt last year.

A second investigation into suspected Turkish spying on alleged Gulen supporters continues.

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