Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın said Turkish intelligence officers could be involved in more abductions around the world in the coming days.
Speaking to state-run TRT radio, Aydın was asked if the Turkish government has had a “paradigm change” in its crackdown against the Gulen movement, in a reference to abductions of Gulen-linked teachers in Kosovo.
Kosovo operation is not the first of its kind, Aydin said, fugitive Gulenists will walk looking back all the time. “National Intelligence Organization will continue its operations everywhere.”
“After the government’s success at home, there was a need to carry out operations targeting the group’s overseas network. I think similar operations [elsewhere] will be carried out in the coming days insofar as legal circumstances permit,” he added.
Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) on Thursday abducted six Turkish nationals, one doctor and five educators, working for a group of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement and removed them to Turkey the same day. Meanwhile, media reported on Tuesday that Gabon police detained 5 Gulenists teachers at Turkey’s request.
US-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch (HRW) earlier said the arrest of Turkish nationals in Kosovo showed a callous disregard for human rights and rule of law. “In addition to the questionable arrests, the men were sent to a country where they face a serious risk of torture. The Kosovo President, Prime Minister and speaker of parliament, who claim no knowledge of the operation, should demand a thorough investigation and explain how this travesty took place,” HRW said.
Turkish government accuses Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 while the latter denies involvement.
More than 150,000 people have been detained and 60,000 were remanded in prison over Gulen links in Turkey since the summer of 2016. Meanwhile, Erdogan called on foreign governments to punish Gulenists in their own countries.
So far, a number of countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the United Nations.