The Moldovan Information and Security Service (SIS) on Thursday detained six Turkish nationals who were working for the Gülen-linked Orizont Moldovan-Turkish Schools, as part of the Turkish government’s global witch hunt against the Gülen movement.

They were apprehended by police on their way to school or in their homes. In one case, SIS agents broke into the detainee’s house.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was expected to visit Moldova in September or October, according to the country’s president, Igor Dodon. Erdoğan had previously asked Moldovan Parliament Speaker Andria Candu to close Gülen-linked schools.

Hasan Karacaoğlu, Hüseyin Bayraktar, Rıza Doğan, Feridun Tüfekçi, Yasin Öz and Müjdat Çelebi were the detained Turkish nationals.

Tüfekçi was the principal of the Ceadir-Lunga branch of the schools, and Doğan was the principal of the Durlesti branch.

Apart from Bayraktar, they had all applied for asylum in April 2018 and were expecting a response from Moldovan authorities this month.

A statement by SIS suggested that the detainees were “suspected of ties with an Islamist group, a group about which there are indications that they are acting illegally in several countries,” and that they “have been declared undesirable by competent authorities and expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova,” according to the London Advocacy Group.

The relatives of the detainees were not informed of their whereabouts. According to local sources, students and their families went to the airport where the detainees were to be handed over to Turkish security forces in order to be brought back to Turkey, protesting the detentions.

Amnesty demands urgent action for Turkish teacher at risk of extradition from Moldova

Amnesty International has launched an “urgent action” campaign for Mustafa Çabuk, a Turkish secondary school teacher at imminent risk of extradition to Turkey, asking people to call on Georgian officials to avoid extradition.

“Amnesty International Moldova is deeply concerned about the imminent danger to people’s lives and security, as well as the violation of human rights, regarding the administration of the Orizont Lyceum network of the six Turkish citizens’ families, including minors, detained today by the members of the Intelligence and Security Service, in flagrant violation of the procedure for detention, search and lifting, violation of the norms on the freedom and security of persons stipulated in the conventions to which the Republic of Moldova is a party,” Amnesty said in a written statement.

In March 2018 the general director of the schools, Turgay Şen, was detained by Moldovan security forces upon the Turkish government’s request for extradition but was released without charges.

Another Turkish educator in Mongolia, Veysel Akçay, was detained in July of this year for extradition at the request of the Turkish government, but due to the intervention of Mongolian authorities and international pressure, he was released.

The Turkish government has launched both a domestic and a global crackdown against the Gülen movement, accusing it of orchestrating a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denied any involvement.

More than 100 Gülen-linked Turkish nationals were brought back to Turkey through intelligence service operations and with the cooperation of other countries, including Kosovo, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Gabon and Myanmar.

Meanwhile, Moldova’s former Minister of Education Maia Sandu reacted to the detainment that she called illegal and asked her followers to spread the word.

More reactions pour in

Two human rights organizations issued a joint press statement condemning the detention of the Turkish educator.

“The expulsion of these people to Turkey poses an imminent danger to their life and security and also the risk of not receiving a fair trial,” they wrote in the letter.

Later in the day, European Union Commissioner Johannes Hahn urged the Moldovan authorities to respect rule of law.

In a separate letter, six members of the European Parliament asked Moldava’s President Igon Dodor and PM Pavel Filip to stop what they called “abusive extration.”

 

Iurie Leanca, Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration wrote on his Facebook accoun: “It is imperative that the information and security service publicly disclose conclusive evidence that would demonstrate the involvement of Turkish citizens in alleged terrorist financing actions, otherwise the so-called ‘thorough assessments’ raise big questions.”

In the meantime, Nicolae Esanu, a Secretary of State at the Justice Ministry said Moldova could be sentenced within European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if the intelligence service is not able to show enough evidence. “Looking at SIS’s statement, we can only get a conviction at ECHR,” he said.

And, Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu has called for parliamentary inquiry into arrest of Turkish nationals.

The detention spurred protests across the world with people gathering outside Moldovan consulates in New York, Washington DC, Toronto and Chicago.