Malaysia deports three Turks over alleged Gülen links
KUALA LUMPUR - ReutersMalaysia has deported three Turkish men to Ankara over their involvement in the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), police said on May 12.
Malaysian authorities detained school principal Turgay Karaman, 43, businessman İhsan Aslan, 39, and academic İsmet Özçelik, 58, last week, saying they posed a threat to national security.
The suspects were detained in Turkey after arriving in Istanbul from Malaysia early on May 12, a Turkish police officer reportedly said, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
They were handed over to the Ankara Police Department’s anti-terror unit for interrogation, the official reportedly said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The detentions came amid concerns raised by rights groups that the men were being held in Malaysia due to pressure from Turkey. At the time, Malaysian authorities did not say whether they were suspected of having ties to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
On May 12, Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement the men were deported the previous day on suspicion of being involved in FETÖ, widely believed to have been behind the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The Malaysian police investigation found that the three men had been involved in FETÖ activities and were listed as individuals wanted by Turkish authorities, Khalid said.
The Turkish government had also cancelled their travel documents, he added.
“As such, their presence in Malaysia is invalid and their status declared as illegal immigrants,” Khalid said.
He said police would continue to monitor any group or foreign militants that tried to use Malaysia as “a centre for logistics, shelter, fund collection or operations base for launching an attack in the country or abroad”.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Office for South East Asia had previously urged Malaysia not to deport the Turks over fears the men could face an unfair trial in Turkey.
Ayşe Karaman, the wife of Turgay Karaman, had also appealed to the Malaysian government for her husband to be deported to another country apart from Turkey but her appeal was rejected.
Rosli Dahlan, a lawyer for Karaman and İsmet Özçelik, told Reuters that the men’s families had not been informed of their deportation beforehand.
He also questioned Malaysia’s decision to deport Özçelik, who he said had documents from the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR recognizing him as an asylum seeker.
HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said in a statement that Özçelik’s deportation was “a clear violation of international human rights law.”