US Embassy in Kosovo lauds parliamentary inquiry into expulsion of Gülen-linked Turks

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Students of Mehmet Akif College demonstrate against the arrest of their teachers in Pristina on March 29, 2018. In an operation carried out between Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and Kosovo's spy services, six high-ranking members of US-based Turkish Muslim Scholar Fethullah Gulen's movement were brought back home on a private plane, Anadolu news agency reported, citing security sources. / AFP PHOTO / Armend NIMANI

The US Embassy in Kosovo has issued a statement hailing a parliamentary inquiry into the expulsion of six Turkish nationals in March 2018 due to a request from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that “political pressure on the security sector to break Kosovo law is an egregious breach of democratic values.”

“The issue is not the alleged guilt or innocence of the individuals, but rather the apparent circumventing of Kosovo’s legal processes by Kosovo politicians,” the statement said.

“We urge full transparency in the security sector, and in the conduct of foreign affairs, to prevent inappropriate interference by Kosovo politicians in the future.”

The expelled men were sought by Turkish prosecutors over their alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

Erdoğan accuses the Gülen movement of being behind a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

According to The Times newspaper, a report produced by the investigative committee of the Kosovar parliament concluded that the expulsions accounted for at least 31 violations of the country’s constitution and laws as well being in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Kosovo is a signatory.

Xhelal Svecla, the committee’s chairman, told The Times the order came “from within the highest institutions.”

“The Kosovo Intelligence Agency [KIA] got the request from the Turkish side to hand over and deport six Turkish nationals residing legally in Kosovo,” he said. “There are suspicions that the list was bigger. … According to our findings this goes even higher than our secret service.”

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, a close ally of Erdoğan, is believed to have ordered the deportations. Last September, Erdoğan promised Thaci that he would help Kosovo, which is only recognized by 102 of the 193 UN member states, to join international institutions such as Interpol. Thaci, meanwhile, was one of the few heads of state to attend Erdoğan’s inauguration last July.

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