Third Turk arrested in Malaysia for security reasons

Third Turk arrested in Malaysia for security reasons

KUALA LUMPUR - Agence France-Presse
Third Turk arrested in Malaysia for security reasons

Royal Malaysian Police Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar addresses journalists in Bayan Lepas on Malaysia's northern island state of Penang on March 7. AFP photo

A third Turkish national has been arrested in Malaysia, the man’s lawyer said on May 5, after two others were taken into custody this week, with officials saying that the arrestees posed threat to national security.

Turkish academic İsmet Özçelik was arrested on May 4, his lawyer Rosli Dahlan told Agence France-Presse, adding that no official reasons were provided by authorities.

İsmet was initially arrested in December 2016 for allegedly assaulting an immigration official but was freed on bail in January.

On May 2, two other Turkish nationals, Turgay Karaman and İhsan Aslan, were arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, which allows police to detain them for 28 days, in a move that raised concerns about Malaysia acting on possible pressure from Ankara.

State-run Anadolu Agency has said the pair were linked to U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the July 2016 failed coup attempt. 

But Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said on May 4 that the country’s anti-terrorism police unit had been investigating the two men, along with a number of others, for “spreading, influencing and funding” the activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar denied claims that the authorities were acting on Turkey’s request.  

“We have our own laws to protect national security. We have the right to determine who we want to arrest and detain,” he was quoted as saying in the Malay Mail Online. “Anyone who threatens our national security is not welcomed here.”