Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has paid a visit to the wives of six Turkish nationals who were abducted in Kosovo by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization and flown to Turkey on March 29, Kosovar media outlets reported.
Haradinaj reportedly expressed his regrets over the incidents, saying that his government would take all the necessary steps to prevent such an incident from happening again.
On March 27 six Turkish nationals who work for a group of schools in Kosovo affiliated with the Gülen movement were abducted by the Turkish intelligence services.
Hours later Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the victims were brought to Turkey in a joint operation by the Turkish and Kosovar intelligence services.
The arrests sparked a political crisis in Kosovo. Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj on Friday dismissed the interior minister and the secret service chief.
Haradinaj said on Thursday: “The entire operation — revoking their residence permits, detention, emergency deportation and the secret extradition to Turkey of the six Turkish citizens from Kosovo territory — was conducted without my knowledge and without my permission.”
President Hashim Thaci also commented on the developments: “Today we are disappointed because our relevant institutions, for reasons that remain to be clarified to the end, have failed to defend these principles related to the human rights of foreign nationals who live and work in our country. I am informed by the competent authorities after the event that six citizens were deported today to Turkey on the grounds that they did not have a residence permit in Kosovo.”
But Thaci changed his tone on Saturday and said he was informed by the intelligence service that “their arrest and deportation is related to their illegal and dangerous activity in Kosovo.”
He also hinted that he was not pleased with the dismissal of the interior minister and secret service chief.
Leutrim Syla, lawyer for the six Turkish nationals — Cihan Özkan, Kahraman Demirez, Hasan Hüseyin Günakan, Mustafa Erdem, Osman Karakaya and Yusuf Karabina — said on Friday that his clients would most likely face torture or ill treatment and harsh punishment if they were deported to Turkey.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, on Saturday tweeted that six Turkish nationals who were arrested by Kosovar police on Thursday and apparently spirited out of the country by Turkish intelligence later in the day would face the risk of torture and abuse in Turkey.
“Beyond the complete lack of due process, the six Turks who may have been sent from Kosovo to Turkey would face severe risk of torture and abuse. Whereabouts unclear,” Roth said on his Twitter account.