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Former major rendered from Ukraine by MİT arrested over the killing of academic

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Nuri Gökhan Bozkır, a former Turkish military officer who is accused by the Turkish government in the unsolved murder of academic Necip Hablemitoğlu and was rendered from Ukraine by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), was arrested by a court on Tuesday, Turkish media reported.

Bozkır was a major who served in an elite group attached to the Special Forces Command (ÖKK) in the Turkish military before he was dishonorably discharged in 2007.

After 2007 he reportedly started to supply so-called associated military materiel — equipment, food and humanitarian aid — to countries in which there were armed conflicts.

Bozkır went to Ukraine in 2015 and never came back. He applied for asylum in Ukraine in 2019 and said he was used by MİT in weapons smuggling to Syria and that his life would be at risk if he were extradited to Turkey.

In an interview with Ukrainian news website Strana, Bozkır said that between 2012 and 2015, he dispatched a total of 49 weapons shipments to Turkmens in Syria.

Turkish authorities accuse Bozkır of the murder of Turkish academic Necip Hablemitoğlu, who was killed in 2002 in front of his house in Ankara.

He was detained in Kyiv at the request of Turkey on July 10, 2019, but Ukrainian courts have not found grounds for his extradition. The former soldier had a residence permit in Ukraine as well as a legal business. He applied for political asylum; however, by the time he was brought back to Turkey, the Ukrainian authorities had not yet made a decision on the request.

Bozkır says the accusation was leveled because he turned down a business proposal from an influential businessman close to the family of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2018.

Turkish police detained six people on Sunday in connection to the murder of Hablemitoğlu.

Hablemitoğlu, an academic at Atatürk University, was known for his research and books on the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by Ankara of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, the movement denies any involvement in the coup. Despite the group’s denial, Ankara launched a massive crackdown on the movement, arresting tens of thousands.

The Gülen movement has been time and again framed in conspiracy theories about Hablemitoğlu’s murder; yet after the 2016 coup attempt, these theories turned into an indictment, which accuses FETÖ, a derogatory acronym coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen group as a terrorist organization, of the murder.

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