Turgay Karaman and İsmet Özçelik, two of the three Turkish nationals who were earlier deported back home by Malaysian officials despite international calls over torture risk were put in pre-trial detention on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the court overseeing their case ruled to release, on judicial control, Ihsan Aslan, the other Turkish citizen who was forcefully returned to Turkey mid-this month.
The trio was detained by Malaysian officials in Kuala Lumpur and deported to Turkey on May 11. They were taken into custody upon their arrival in Ankara as part of investigations into the Gulen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The movement denies any involvement in the attempt.
Even though Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar earlier told reporters that the Turks were arrested without any request from the Turkish government, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency (AA) claimed otherwise.
Officials from the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT), an anti-terror police unit and an anesthetist were tasked with participation in the operation in Kuala Lumpur, AA said. The anesthetist was standing by to intervene in Özçelik’s detention if he resisted, the agency added.
Özcelik is a former board member at Mevlana University, which was closed down over Gülen links in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. While Karaman was the headmaster of a Gulen-linked international school in the Malaysian city of Ipoh, Aslan was a member of the Malaysian-Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a Gülen-linked business association based in Kuala Lumpur.
Several human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Office highlighted that the trio faces torture risk in Turkey where post-coup detainees are reportedly subjected to maltreatment at detention centers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier called on foreign governments to punish Gülen followers in their own countries. Only a few countries have complied with the request so far.
Turkey has already detained more than 120,000 people over their alleged or real ties to the movement at home before spreading its crackdown to overseas.
On Wednesday, Georgia detained the principal of a Gulen-linked school while Myanmar also cancelled a Turkish teacher’s passport on Turkey’s request. Meanwhile, NBA star Enes Kanter, who is an outspoken supporter of the movement, was denied entrance to Romania last week as Turkish government cancelled his passport like it did for thousands of dissident voices in the aftermath of the coup attempt.