German domestic spy chief rejects Turkey's allegation it harbors PKK militants
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Hans-Georg Maassen, Germany's head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz) addresses a news conference to introduce the agency's 2015 report on threats to the constitution in Berlin, Germany,
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany's domestic spy agency on Tuesday rejected as "completely unjustified" Turkey's accusation that Germany is harboring militants tied to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
"That accusation is completely unjustified. We have been working for many years to ensure that the PKK in Germany poses no danger to Germany or Turkey," Hans-Georg Maassen told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday.
He said Germany had a good exchange of information with Turkey and that generally the countries worked well together on that issue.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said there were outstanding legal cases against 4,500 PKK members in Germany, but only three suspects had been sent back to Turkey so far.
Asked if ties between the intelligence services of Germany and Turkey had deteriorated after Turkey's failed July 15 military coup, Maassen said only that cooperation was often difficult because of the different priorities set by the Turkish intelligence services.
However, he said cooperation was working well in regard to combating Islamic State, given a clear understanding of the dangers that the militant jihadist group posed.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms for autonomy in southeast Turkey in 1984. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Andreas Rinke and Thorsten Severin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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