WASHINGTON – Turkey has disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
According to journalist David Ignatius, Israeli intelligence had apparently run part of its Iranian spy network through Turkey, which has relatively easy movement back and forth across its border with Iran.
Ignatius quoted knowledgeable sources as describing the Turkish action as a “significant” loss of intelligence and “an effort to slap the Israelis.”
"Israeli anger at the deliberate compromise of its agents may help explain why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became so entrenched in his refusal to apologize to Erdogan about the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident," it was stated.
Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan by phone in March after President Obama negotiated a compromise formula.
Though US officials regarded exposure of the Israeli network as an unfortunate intelligence loss, they didn’t protest directly to Turkish officials, Ignatius said.
According to the report, Israel believes Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan is behind the disclosure because of his friendly links with Tehran. Ignatius noted that the Mossad, after more than 50 years of cooperation with Turkey, never imagined the Turks would “shop” Israeli agents to a hostile power.
Fidan is a key Erdogan adviser. He became head of the MIT in 2010 after serving as a noncommissioned officer in the Turkish army and gaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a doctorate in Ankara. After Fidan took over the Turkish service, “he rattled Turkey’s allies by allegedly passing to Iran sensitive intelligence collected by the US and Israel,” according to a recent profile in the Wall Street Journal.