Five Turkish citizens linked to Gulen arrested in Kosovo

Five Turkish citizens linked to Gulen arrested in Kosovo

 Authorities in Kosovo arrested on Thursday five Turkish citizens, employees of the Gülistan Educational Institution, owned by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen whom the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for a coup attempt in Turkey two years ago.

Among the arrested are two directors of "Mehmet Akif" School in Pristina and Gjakova, a deputy director and two teachers.

Authorities did not say where the arrested were, while Turkish media said they were extradited immediately to Turkey in a joint intelligence operation of the two countries. Turkish media also published photographs of the six arrested people.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, said through a statement that has revoked the residence permits to Turkish citizens arrested today.

"During the administration of the evidence we have ascertained that for the persons in question, there is sufficient legal basis to take measures for revoking their residence permit in the territory of the Republic of Kosovo for reasons determined by the law on foreigners, namely Article 6 of the law where it talks about the refusal or revocation of the residence permit for state security circumstances," it says in the communique, but without detailing the concrete reasons.

The Ministry further states that "this is a legal procedure that has been applied in previous cases, both for foreigners with residence permits, as well as for aliens who have acquired Kosovo citizenship and have been revoked for security reasons; other procedures foreseen by the relevant law ", stated in the communiqué, underlining that "after the revocation of the residence permit, the further residence of these citizens is considered illegal ".

But the director of 'Mehmet Akif' College in Lipjan, Nazmi Ulus, said that all arrestees had a residency permit while expressing his concern over their fate. He expressed concern over the possibility of extraditing them to Turkey, while criticizing Kosovo's institutions that have not provided more information.

He said he doubts that the reasons for the detention of the school staff are related to Turkey's pressure on the Balkan countries.

"Turkey's so-called President Erdogan is constantly pushing for demands and pressure on all the states where our schools are located. We do not understand how a mayor of the country reacts so harshly to his own citizens who have gone abroad to contribute to education and this is hampering him too much," he said.

Also, the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Pristina has expressed its concern about the arrests that according to it may have been made under the pressure of the official Ankara.

In a Council response it is stated that in this clash between Erdogan and Gülen, Kosovo must remain neutral while respecting international human rights standards."

Gulistan Educational Institutions, manage four primary and secondary schools in Kosovo, with about 1,700 students.

In December last year, the Kosovo prosecution rejected the request for the extradition of a Turkish citizen wanted by Turkey on charges of involvement in the coup in July 2016.

Uğur Toksoy, an employee of the educational foundation, "The Atmosphere" was arrested in October shortly after the visit of Kosovo's chief prosecutor, Yüksel Kocaman, who according to Turkish media had handed over to the authorities in Kosovo the names of 25 Turkish citizens required by the authorities Turkish.

Turkey has detained more than 50,000 people in operations against suspected Fethullah Gulen supporters.

The Gulen living in the United States has repeatedly denied the allegations. Its FETÖ Foundation runs around 40 schools in the Western Balkans, including 15 institutions in Bosnia, 12 in Albania, 7 in Macedonia, five in Kosovo and one in Serbia.

A widespread government coup following the coup that left 250 people killed and over 2,000 injured targeted Gulen's supporters and other Turkish government opponents.

Observers say Turkish influence in the Western Balkans is stretched in a particularly populated Muslim environment, such as Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Such concern has been repeatedly expressed by international experts who say that Turkey through investment is trying to extend its influence in Kosovo.
Five Turkish citizens linked to Gulen arrested in Kosovo Five Turkish citizens linked to Gulen arrested in Kosovo Thursday, March 29, 2018 Rating: 5
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