Turkey ran surveillance on Greeks visiting ancient monastery - report

The Turkish intelligence services secretly ran surveillance on Greek nationals who visited an historic monastery on Turkey’s Black Sea coastline, according to the testimony of a former intelligence officer, news site Nordic Monitor reported on Sunday.

One of the mandates of intelligence officials in Turkey's northeastern province of Trabzon was to monitor tourists who visited the Greek Orthodox Sümela Monastery, Nordic Monitor said, citing a 2016 hearing of the former official that it said was classified.

Trabzon was part of Hellenistic-era kingdom Pontus for centuries and home to an ethnic Greek group.

“Monitoring Pontus activities are part of our mandate … for example, tour groups from Greece that visit the Sümela Monastery,” the officer said in his testimony, according to Nordic Monitor.

Pontic Greeks, who had lived in the Black Sea region for 600 years, were either forced to convert to Islam, massacred between 1914 and 1923 or were banished in 1923 during the Turkish-Greek population exchange, according to some Greek officials including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Turkey denies any planned massacres took place.