UN body calls on Turkey to release 2 Gülen-linked individuals brought from Malaysia

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İhsan Aslan (L), İsmet Özçelik (C) and Turgay Karaman were brought from Malaysia by the Turkish officials.

Turkey must release two men detained over suspected links to a cleric blamed for a 2016 coup attempt and pay them compensation for arbitrary detention, a UN body said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Academic İsmet Özçelik and school principal Turgay Karaman were deported in 2017 from Malaysia to Turkey, where they were accused of ties to the network of Fethullah Gülen, a cleric who Ankara says sought an uprising the previous year.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the 2016 coup attempt, and widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

US-based Gülen and his followers deny coup-plotting.

Saying it had violated the two Turkish men’s freedoms, the UN Human Rights Committee gave Turkish authorities 180 days to comply with its ruling. But it lacks any enforcement authority.

“The State party is obligated … to release the authors (of the complaint) and provide them with adequate compensation for the violations suffered,” the committee’s report on the case said, noting that Turkey’s membership of an international rights covenant required it to act and provide “effective remedy.”

Turkey had sought an exemption due to its state of emergency and the “serious and complex” nature of the pair’s alleged crimes, but the committee rejected that, saying it failed to explain how they posed a threat.

Since the failed coup attempt three years ago, Turkish authorities have demanded the extradition of various people suspected of links to Gülen’s network. While some countries, including Kosovo and Pakistan as well as Malaysia, have complied, others have refused.

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