A total of 80 people affiliated with Turkey’s Gülen group has been captured and brought to Turkey from 18 different countries, according to Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ.
“Up to today, the agency [Turkish National Intelligence Organization] have packaged up and delivered 80 FETÖ members from 18 countries,” Islamist newspaper Yeni Şafak quoted Bozdağ as saying.
FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] is a buzzword, coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to refer the the Gülen group as.
Turkish government accuses the group of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt although the latter denies involvement. More than 120,000 people have been detained and some 55,000 were put in pretrial arrest while over 145,000 have lost their jobs amid the government’s post-coup crackdown against people deemed to have ties to the group.
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.
On Monday, Erdogan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın said Turkish intelligence officers could be involved in more abductions around the world “in the coming days.”
A total of 14,640 Turkish nationals claimed asylum in the European Union countries in 2017, according to Eurostat data. The corresponding number was 10,105 in 2016 and only 4,180 in 2015.
“With reports of Turkish intelligence activities in multiple countries, including other kidnapping plots, governments should become much more willing to offer Turkish citizens asylum and must look very skeptically upon Turkish government requests for arrest and extradition,” Freedom House’s Nate Schenkkan wrote on Washington Post on Apr 1.
Meanwhile, US-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the arrest of Turkish nationals in Kosovo showed a callous disregard for human rights and rule of law.