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Cambodia arrests Mexican-Turkish national over Gülen links: report

Osman Karaca's wife.

Cambodian police have arrested the Turkish-Mexican former director of a school run by the movement of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup, his wife said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Osman Karaca, former director of Zaman International School, was arrested by eight policemen while he was at a bank on Oct. 14 in the capital city of Phnom Penh, said his wife Grace Karaca, who fears he will be deported to Turkey.

“That’s the last we have heard of him,” Karaca told Reuters on Friday from Mexico, where she is living with her son.

The Mexican Embassy in Vietnam — it does not have one in Cambodia — confirmed the arrest in a letter and asked Cambodia’s Interior Ministry to provide information and let him communicate with a consul.

Cambodian Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment. Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun declined to comment. Turkey’s Embassy in Phnom Penh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Erdoğan accuses Gülen of orchestrating the coup attempt and has demanded the extradition of various people tied to Gülen’s movement — including staff at schools it funded worldwide. Gülen denies any connection with the abortive putsch.

At its peak, the Gülen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the coup attempt, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gülen-run establishments.

In Turkey’s three-year purge since the coup attempt, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Ankara has defended the clampdown as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat that Turkey faces, vowing to eradicate Gülen’s network.

Karaca, who was born in Turkey and holds a Mexican passport, was director of Zaman school until it was sold last year and has since been working as an educational consultant for the school, his wife said.

Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, urged the Cambodian authorities to either bring Karaca promptly before a judge or release him immediately.

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