Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday praised the abduction of three Gülen movement-linked people by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) from Gabon, saying similar operations are imminent, the pro-government Güneş daily reported.
Osman Özpınar, İbrahim Akbaş and Adnan Demirönal was caught in Gabon in a MIT operation and taken to Turkey by private jet, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported early Tuesday.
On March 29, MIT abducted six Turkish nationals linked to the Gülen movement from Kosovo.
“Gabon has recently handed over three important FETÖ [a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement] members, thank God. We will go wherever they may flee. They will flee, we will follow. We got six of them from Kosovo, we have gotten three from Gabon. Our national intelligence organization is following them. We’ll see where a new one [operation] takes place,” Erdoğan said during a parliamentary group meeting of his AKP.
The incident sent shockwaves around the world and in Kosovo, where the prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, who said he was unaware of the removal of the Turkish nationals to Turkey, fired the country’s interior minister and head of the intelligence service for failing to inform him about the arrest of the Turkish nationals.
Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokesperson, has slammed the arrest and deportation of six Turkish nationals from Kosovo due to their links to the Gülen movement, saying the incident raises questions about respect for the due process of law.
Erdoğan said on Saturday that the Turkish government would continue chasing the alleged followers of the Gülen movement abroad and bring them back to Turkey. Speaking at a ruling AKP congress in the southwestern province of Denizli, Erdoğan said: “Some 80 FETÖ terrorists have been brought to Turkey. We will chase them no matter where they escape to,” adding: “As you know we nabbed six senior members of FETÖ. We caught them in Kosovo and brought them here.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in late March 2018 exposed the details of torture cases in Turkey last year and called on the Turkish government to enforce its proclaimed policy of zero tolerance for torture.
So far, a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia, Pakistan, Sudan and Myanmar have 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.
US media last year reported that Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, was part of a potential bargain between former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and top Turkish officials. An alleged plan that involved Flynn forcibly and illegally removing Gülen in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10, 2017. Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal, according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New York City.