Kosovo PM says investigation underway into arrest, removal of Turkish citizens

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Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj delivers a speech during a parliamentary session in Pristina, Kosovo on March 30, 2018. Erkin Keci / Anadolu Agency

Kosovo authorities are investigating the Thursday arrest and removal to Turkey of six Turkish citizens, which activists say represents a violation of human rights, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

The six Turks were arrested in Kosovo on Thursday at Turkey’s request over alleged links to schools financed by the Gülen movement, which Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup.

On Friday Haradinaj fired the Kosovar interior minister and secret service chief for failing to inform him about the arrests.

“Today we have decided to start an investigation of all [state] structures that were involved in arresting and deporting the six Turkish men,” Haradinaj said after an emergency meeting of Kosovo’s security council.

Ankara accused the six arrested men of being recruiters for a network run by the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and said they had helped people suspected of connections to the network leave Turkey. Ankara blames Gülen and his movement for the coup attempt in 2016. Gülen denies any involvement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday the six men had been captured by Turkish intelligence officers and brought to Turkey.

“Our National Intelligence Agency [MIT] captured six of the highest ranking members of [Gülen’s network] in the Balkans in the operation it conducted in Kosovo,” said Erdoğan, speaking to supporters and party members in Istanbul.

He added that he was unhappy about the firing of the Kosovo interior minister and secret service chief.

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