Moldova to question intelligence chiefs over Turkish expulsions: report

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The Moldova president Igor Dodon (C) and prime minister Pavel Filip (R) and the speaker of the parliament Andrian Candu (L) attending a ceremony on the National Day in Chisinau on August 27, 2018. Photo: Igor Dodon Facebook via The Balkan Insight

Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Speaker of Parliament Andrian Candu, both members of the ruling Democratic Party, on Thursday summoned the heads of the country’s intelligence service for a hearing in parliament as concern grows over the sudden detention and expulsion of seven Turkish teachers, Balkan Insight reported.

According to the report the Moldovan government asked the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) to provide further information on the case of the detention and expulsion of a number of Turkish nationals working for a private high school chain linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen and the movement he inspired.

“We have called for parliamentary hearings in the case of the expulsion from the country of seven foreign citizens. It is very important to make sure that human rights and national and international norms have been respected in this case,” Candu said.

On Friday President Igor Dodon joined the initiative and also asked for evidence from SIS after earlier on Thursday accusing the media of double standards in the matter, referring to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Moldova over poisonings in Salisbury, England.

However, some political analysts said the latest move was just smoke and mirrors as the top Moldovan officials had long known about the Turkish regime’s demands for Moldova to hand over alleged members of the Gülen movement.

“Parliament and the government have asked SIS to justify its extradition decision? Just formal hearings? Since when has SIS been acting on its own?” analyst Igor Munteanu asked rhetorically on Facebook, stressing that SIS only acts on political orders.

In May 2017, on a visit to Chisinau, then-Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım urged Moldova to close down the Horizont high school network due to its alleged links to the Gülen movement. Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip did not agree to, or reject, the request back then.

“If there is evidence, of course, we expect Turkish experts to come and contact our Intelligence and Security Service or the Interior Ministry, so we can address this issue legally,” Filip said on May 5, 2017, in Chisinau.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Johannes Hahn has reminded the Chisinau authorities to respect human rights.

“I expect the Moldovan government and all authorities to respect rule of law and all established judicial procedures,” Hahn tweeted.

A group of seven members of the European Parliament have written a joint letter to Moldova’s government urging it “to stop immediately the abusive extraditions,” noting that Moldova “is a country on [the] European roadmap.”

Amnesty International’s Chisinau branch has also criticized the decision to detain and expel the Turkish nationals from the country.

Students from the Horizont private high schools chain in Moldova have launched an online campaign for their professors, called “Teachers, not terrorists!”

The case of the expelled Turkish professors has also been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to be examined in an urgent procedure.

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