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EP’s Harms calls on Kiev: Do not leave Yunus alone

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Rebecca Harms, spokeswoman for foreign affairs and expert on Turkey in the European Parliament’s Greens/EFA group, on Sunday called on the Ukrainian government to stop the abduction of Turkish citizens by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in Ukraine, expressing her solidarity with Kiev-based Turkish journalist Yunus Erdogdu.

“Don’t leave Yunus alone. Stop Turkish secret service kidnapping Turks abroad. Respect rule of law and #HumanRights in #Ukraine and everywhere,” Harms tweeted, mentioning the Twitter accounts of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin and Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush.

Erdogdu on Sunday called for help as a list of 10 people including him was published in the Ukrainian media following the abduction of two Turkish citizens by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

“I do not feel safe here any more. I have not slept for the last five days due to fear of an operation by the Turkish intelligence agency,” Erdogdu told Turkish Minute, recalling a target list of the 10 Turkish citizens including journalists, teachers and businessmen that was published by the Strana.ua Ukrainian news website based on security sources.

Erdogdu is calling on Ukrainian authorities to confirm or deny the list published by Strana.ua.

Underlining the contradictory statements made by Ukrainian authorities about the abduction of the two Turkish citizens, Erdogdu said, “If they confirm the list, I’ll ask them based on which law and what evidence are they cooperating with the Turkish intelligence agency in abductions.”

Turkish journalist Yusuf Inan and businessman Salih Zeki Yigit were recently rendered to Turkey by MİT as part of operations targeting members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which was accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies it.

Spokespersons for SBU, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the State Migration Service and State Border Service first told the Kyiv Post that they had no information about the arrest of Inan or Yigit. But several days after the abductions, Andriy Lysenko, speaking for the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, confirmed that the cases were the result of cooperation between the two countries.

The Turkish Embassy also called the arrests and extraditions “a part of ongoing security cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine,” the Kyiv Post reported.

Erdogdu, founder of the first Turkish language news website ukraynahaber.com and currently chief Turkish language editor at the Vector News Agency, has been working in Ukraine since 2005.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir on July 19 expressed great concern in a letter to Ukrainian authorities following the detention and extradition of Inan to Turkey.” Journalists should not be prosecuted for expressing their opinions and it is of concern that a critical journalist was extradited to Turkey. I ask the Ukrainian authorities to clarify whether his freedom of expression and right to appeal were taken into consideration,” Désir said, noting that Inan has been accused in Turkey of being a member of the Gülen movement.

On July 12, Inan, editor-in-chief of online news outlet News2023.com and former editor-in-chief of the Yerel Gündem newspaper and its website, was detained by Ukrainian authorities in Mykolayiv and extradited to Turkey.

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