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Pro-Erdoğan media shift blame for abduction of Turkish educator to Kyrgyz intelligence

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News analysis by Cevheri Güven 

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), seen by many as the main actor in the alleged abduction of an educator in Kyrgyzstan, had nothing to do with the kidnapping, which instead was masterminded by Krygyz intelligence, media outlets controlled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have claimed.

İnandı, the founder of a school network affiliated with the Gülen movement in Kyrgyzstan, went missing on the evening of May 31. His car was found abandoned, with tires flat and doors left open a few hours later. His wife, Reyhan İnandı, filed an official complaint, saying her husband was abducted and would be taken to Turkey. Hundreds of alumni of the Sapat schools, founded by İnandı, created a human chain in front of the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek. “My husband is being tortured at the embassy to make him sign a document renouncing his Kyrgyz citizenship,” İnandı’s wife said in a video she posted on Twitter. She said the information was from reliable sources.

Orhan İnandı has been living in Kyrgyzstan for 26 years and acquired Kyrgyz citizenship in 2010.

Hakan Fidan, the head of MİT, has been behind the removal to Turkey of 95 people working at schools run by the Gülen movement around the world through various methods. Local mafia groups or intelligence organizations were employed in the abductions that occurred mainly in African, Balkan and Southeast Asian countries.

Virtually all people kidnapped by MİT were first taken to Turkish embassies for interrogation and “mug shots” before being rendered to Turkey on private planes. These photos were later advertised by Turkish media networks close to Erdoğan as MİT’s great success. Things went wrong, however, in the removal of İnandı as MİT was unable to take him out of the embassy building in Bishkek following his interrogation.

The incident is dubbed “Turkey’s Khashoggi scandal” as it brings back memories of slain Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who went to the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul in October 2018 and was murdered by Saudi operatives.

As the crisis drags on, pro-Erdoğan media outlets have stepped in to refute any involvement of MİT in İnandı’s abduction.

The Sabah newspaper is closest media outlet closest to Erdoğan, who virtually controls the entire media landscape in Turkey. The daily is run by the brother of Erdoğan’s son-in-law.

Ferhat Ünlü is one of the paper’s most famous columnists and is known to journalists as the unofficial mouthpiece of MİT. Ünlü is also very close to MİT director Fidan. MİT had no involvement in İnandı’s kidnapping, which was carried out the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK), Ünlü wrote six days after İnandı went missing.

Ünlü described the abduction in detail, arguing that the real target was MİT. For Ünlü, as the information that İnandı was being kept in the Turkish Embassy spread, a link was established with the killing of Khashoggi in an effort to defame MİT as an organization resorting to the same methods.

Ünlü stressed that İnandı was in the hands of the Kyrgyz intelligence service, writing: “The Kyrgyz police formed an ‘interrogation-operation group’ consisting of experienced inspectors to examine İnandı’s car and solve the ‘mysterious’ event. Yet İnandı’s car was stopped by members of the UKMK, i.e., the Kyrgyz secret service. In other words, if this was an operation, the Kyrgyz secret service was behind it.”

Ünlü: İnandı is being held by Kyrgyz intelligence

İnandı is in the hands of Kyrgyz intelligence, Ünlü wrote more openly on Twitter, where he advertised his column, saying: “Have a good Sunday. Today, I wrote about the behind-the-scenes of a hot topic. Orhan İnandı, the Central Asia imam for ‘FETÖ’ [a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement] is being held by the Kyrgyz secret service, UKMK. ‘FETÖ’ disclosed that İnandı was missing in an effort to avoid extradition. More in my column: https://t.co/UzHe5E4nEw”

İnandı’s abduction by the Kyrgyz intelligence service is known by Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Ünlü claimed.

Kyrgyzstan failed to secure any support from Russia or China in its recent conflict with Tajikistan, so Japarov sought to kidnap İnandı and extradite him to Turkey in order to win Turkey’s support, Ünlü wrote.

Although he maintained that MİT was not involved in the abduction, Ünlü interestingly said that sending Kyrgyz citizen İnandı to Turkey would be a good gesture ahead of Japarov’s visit to Turkey between June 8 and 10.

Ünlü: a political coup in October

If Japarov fails to send İnandı to Turkey and cooperate with Turkey against the Gülen movement, there may be a political coup in Kyrgyzstan in October, Ünlü suggested in his column. Ünlü cited no source for the information.

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