Ankara disapproves of British call to Turkish Airlines CEO over missing schoolgirls

Ankara disapproves of British call to Turkish Airlines CEO over missing schoolgirls

The Turkish Foreign Ministry disapproves of British parliamentarians’ call for Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil to appear before them about three Londoner schoolgirls believed to have joined Islamists in Syria after flying to Turkey last week, a spokesperson has said.

“We saw that the U.K. parliament has called the THY chief executive for information. We think this is not right,” ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Feb. 27, during a press briefing in Ankara.

The U.K parliament’s Home Affairs committee had asked Kotil and Turkey’s ambassador to Britain, Abdurrahman Bilgiç, to speak about the disappearance of three teenage girls who are believed to have flown to Istanbul before heading to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

British police said this week they believed friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, had crossed into Syria after flying to Istanbul from London on Feb. 17.

Bilgiç said Turkish Airlines is operating “within the intentional rules and didn’t violate any of these.”
He said the company has a London office and it would be better for British lawmakers to get information from that representative.

“There is no need for speculation with an invitation to the THY chief executive,” he said.

The Turkish flag carrier also released a statement on the issue on Feb. 27, saying it is assisting the British authorities about the issue, but denying any security negligence.

“Turkish Airlines is assisting the relevant government bodies in their inquiries but is unable to respond to or comment specifically in relation to the subject matter of ongoing investigations,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

The company, which was criticized for permitting passengers under 18 to fly without parental approval, dismissed these accusations, saying passengers between 12 and 18 years old are allowed to travel alone under International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules.