MONTREAL – Turkish authorities say they have detained a spy for helping three British girls join Islamic State, and reports say the detainee worked for Canada’s spy agency.
Turkey hasn’t officially identified the spy’s home country.
However, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the spy is from the military coalition against Islamic State and is not from Europe or the United States.
Several Turkish media, citing government sources, have said the detained spy was working for Canadian intelligence.
Tahera Mufti, spokeswoman for CSIS, did not respond to a written request for comment.
The office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, the federal minister responsible for CSIS, issued a brief statement.
“We are aware of these reports,” said Blaney’s office. “We do not comment on operational matters of national security.”
A source in the Canadian government told QMI Agency that the individual held in Turkey was not a Canadian citizen.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also claimed the individual was not “an employee of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.”
The source wouldn’t say if the detainee was a freelance or contracted intelligence agent.
The Turkish Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy also released a statement on the matter, saying the capture of the intelligence officer “showcased a complex problem involving intelligence wars.”
“This incident should be a message to those always blaming Turkey on the debate on the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and shows it is a problem more complicated than a mere border security issue,” said the office. “Turkey will continue its call for stronger intelligence sharing, and is worried about the lack of intelligence sharing in a matter involving the lives of three young girls.”
Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, crossed into Syria to join militants after leaving Britain last month.
The Canadian government is currently proposing a law that would formally authorize CSIS to conduct foreign operations “without regard to any other law, including that of any foreign state.”
Blaney told senators just this week that the proposed law would be aimed at tackling the threat posed by Canadians who become foreign fighters in unstable countries.
CSIS has already engaged in several foreign operations, including in Afghanistan, and once even had a secret station somewhere inside Turkey. It is unclear if that station is still open.
Ray Boisvert, a former CSIS deputy director of operations, told QMI on Thursday that people have claimed they work for an intelligence service but that doesn’t mean it’s always true.
“There could be a political agenda or somebody who is overstating their connectivity to the service,” he added. “Turkey is a very complicated environment. I’m a little suspicious.”
ANDREW MCINTOSH, QMI AGENCY
Mar 12, 2015, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET