Turkish businessman denies being under police custody or house arrest in UK

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Akın İpek

Turkish businessman Akın İpek, a target of the Turkish government due to his links to the Gülen movement, has denied recent reports in Turkey’s pro-government media suggesting that he is under police custody or house arrest in the UK, where he has been living since 2015, the Ahval news website reported on Monday.

Last week several pro-government media outlets in Turkey including the state-run Anadolu news agency reported that İpek, the former head of Koza İpek Holding, was detained by police in London upon Turkey’s extradition request on May 23 but was later released on bail. They also said that in order to prevent İpek from leaving the country during the judicial process, British authorities had also seized İpek’s passport.

In remarks to Ahval, İpek said he was not detained nor was his passport seized but that he testified to British prosecutors in May shortly after a visit to the UK by then- Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım concerning Turkey’s extradition request because he is cited among defendants in the main trial against the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, although it strongly denies any involvement.

İpek, accused by the Turkish government of attempting to overthrow Turkey’s government and violate the Constitution, faces up to two aggravated life sentences if convicted.

“They [the British police] called me. I went there with my lawyers and testified as part of the procedure. One appears in court here [in such a case]. This is totally a legal procedure between the two countries. This happened in May as part of a procedure and that was it,” said İpek.

The businessman said he submitted his passport to British authorities of his own will when a trial was launched against him in Turkey and said: “I will come [for testimony] whenever you want, you have my address. I have committed no crime, I’ve never even had a traffic ticket.”

The businessman also said a court hearing would be held in the UK in September to determine whether Turkey’s extradition request for him is politically motivated.

According to İpek, the publication of such reports about him in the Turkish media coincides with the time when he took the seizure of his assets by the government in Turkey to the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, saying that he is unable to receive justice in Turkey.

“Maybe they want to prevent what will be handled by an international court, or they are trying to influence the judicial process,” said the businessman.

The İpek family had already been under immense pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government due to their links to the Gülen movement following corruption operations that were conducted on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 in which Erdoğan’s close circle was implicated.

On Oct. 24, 2015 the government appointed trustees to take over the management of dozens of companies belonging to the İpek family in addition to several media outlets operating under the İpek Media Group, due to their critical stance against the government.

In January 2017 an Ankara court ordered that all assets belonging to the İpek family be transferred to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) over links to the Gülen movement.

Earlier this month, İpek was secretly filmed in his UK office by the Anadolu news agency.

The agency released video footage that shows İpek being secretly filmed around his offices in London and driving his car. In the clip the address of İpek’s offices are shown as well as the license plate of his car.

İpek told Ahval he was not aware of the Anadolu reporter’s presence in his office, that he thinks there is a reason for the increasing interest of the Turkish media in him and that it is related to the legal action he took at the international level against the Turkish government.

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