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Man abducted from Tajikistan faces risk of torture, Turkish MP says

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Opposition deputy and leading rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has expressed concern that Koray Vural, a businessman who is believed to have been renditioned by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), might be suffering mistreatment in Turkey, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Gergerlioğlu shared his concern on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesdaywhere he sent a tweet addressed to Nacho Sánchez Amor, the Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament.

“On the heels of your statement that according to the government’s narrative half of the country’s population consists of terrorists, another citizen of Turkey has been abducted and forcibly disappeared,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted. “Security officials insist on not making any comments on Koray Vural,” he said, adding that “he is at risk of torture.”

Vural was reported missing on Saturday and is reported to have been abducted by masked individuals while on his way to work in the capital city of Dushanbe.

He had been living in Tajikistan since 1994 and had been working at schools linked to the Gülen movement. These schools were shut down in Tajikistan after a coup attempt in Turkey, the orchestration of which the Turkish government accused the movement although the movement denies any involvement. Vural then became an entrepreneur and worked in commerce.

His passport had expired in 2020, and the authorities had refused to renew it, a common Turkish consular practice against alleged Gülen followers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Since the coup attempt, Erdoğan has employed extralegal methods to secure the return of his critics after official extradition requests were denied.

On July 4, 2023 teacher Emsal Koç was abducted from his home in Tajikistan and taken to Turkey. He was reportedly kept at a police station in eastern Erzurum province, where he was forced to give details on other Gülen movement members in that country.

A judicial document obtained by Nordic Monitor confirmed that Vural was among the Turkish citizens in Tajikistan profiled by Turkish diplomats back in 2017.

MİT confirmed in its yearly report that it had conducted operations for the forcible return of more than 100 people with alleged links to the Gülen movement.

An SCF report released in October 2021 and titled “Turkey’s Transnational Repression: Abduction, Rendition and Forcible Return of Erdoğan Critics” focused on how the Turkish government under President Erdoğan has used extrajudicial and illegal methods for the forcible transfer to Turkey of its citizens abroad.

In several of these cases the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that the arrest, detention and forced transfer to Turkey of Turkish nationals were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights norms and standards.

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