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Turkish gov’t slams PACE resolution voicing concern over Ankara’s crackdown on Gülen movement

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The Turkish government has voiced strong criticism of a resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Friday that expressed concern about Turkey’s pursuit of anyone allegedly related to the Gülen movement.

Turkey maintains that the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, was behind a coup attempt in July 2016 and designates the group as a terrorist organization. The movement denies any involvement in the 2016 coup or any terrorist activity.

The PACE resolution outlines a range of tactics employed by the Turkish government in its pursuit of those it claims to be associated with the Gülen movement. These include renditions, misuse of extradition proceedings, Interpol Red Notices and measures against terrorist financing. The UN has previously accused the Turkish government of systematic state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions and forcible returns to Turkey.

Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz and Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç expressed their disapproval of the resolution on social media, stating that it undermines Turkey’s fight against terrorism.

Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), also took issue with the resolution. He objected to the term “Gülen movement” used in the PACE resolution, arguing that it portrays a purportedly dangerous group as a civilian movement.

The resolution called on the Council of Europe and its member and observer states to recognize transnational repression as a global phenomenon that threatens democratic societies and the rule of law. It urged these entities to take coordinated action to prevent and fight against such practices.

Additionally, the PACE resolution condemned the intimidation of Turkish journalist Bülent Keneş, who is currently living in exile in Sweden. Keneş, the former editor-in-chief of the now-closed English language Today’s Zaman daily, has been accused by Turkey of being involved in the 2016 coup attempt. Sweden’s Supreme Court has refused to extradite Keneş, citing the political nature of the case and his refugee status.

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