Did Turkey conduct illegal rendition of “terrorist” abroad

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It is not the first time Turkey sent agents to abduct someone they accuse of terrorism. What laws enable Turkey to do so remains unclear.

Turkish intelligence agents appear to have kidnapped a man from a foreign country and renditioned him back to Turkey in a secret operation, one of many similar renditions Turkey has undertaken in recent years. It comes just days after Belarus forced a civilian airliner to land so it could take a dissident off the plane. The Belarus incident has led to widespread condemnation in Europe. Turkey’s kidnapping of dissidents usually receives less attention, but appears more widespread than Belarus.  

According to Turkish media the Turkish National Intelligence agency “captured” and “repatriated” a nephew of a dissident cleric who lives in the US. Fethullah Gulen, once close to the ruling AK Party, has been accused by the leadership in Ankara of being behind a 2016 coup attempt and running a “FETO terrorist” group. There is no evidence that Gulen was involved in the coup or that there even exists a “terrorist” group by this name. Turkey has urged hundreds of thousands of civil servants and has become the world’s largest jailor of journalists, largely imprisoning them on mythical “terrorism” charges without ay evidence. Turkey has also invaded northern Syria and Iraq claiming to fight “terrorism” even though there are no terrorist attacks in recent years from those countries.  Read More Related Articles

The recent “capture” of Selahaddin Gulen took place in an unnamed country. US-based VOA reported that “Turkish spies have forcibly repatriated a nephew of the US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, according to state media. Selahaddin Gulen faces charges of membership of a terror organization.” The report notes that Turkey “did not say where he was seized or when he was returned to Turkey. Gulen’s nephew, however, was believed to be residing in Kenya.”

It is not the first time Turkey sent agents to Kenya to abduct someone they accuse of terrorism. Turkey also grabbed Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, in Kenya in 1999. It was called a “dramatic capture.” Like the recent operation it was unclear by what laws and legality Turkey is able to rendition people from various countries and smuggle them back to Turkey. Usually courts in countries have to extradite people. Turkey in 1999 had the support of various powerful countries which it had roped into its “war on terror” at the time. In many ways the capture of Ocalan helped set the stage for the US renditions program after September 11 where the US intelligence and military captured and took suspects from various countries. According to an academic report by Mark Murray in 2011 the suspects “are then transported using U.S. assets to one of many destinations, including Egypt, Syria, Romania, Jordan, Poland, or Afghanistan. Some individuals are destined for known prisons operated by host governments, but others are held in ‘black sites’ which are operated by the US Government in foreign territories.” Turkey has used the same method and improved upon it largely with impunity from international law. 

 In an increasingly Hobbesian world where the liberal international rules-based order has broken down and authoritarian regimes are rising, while Europe, the US and the West become weaker, countries like Turkey behave as if there are no borders in the world. While US President Joe Biden has said “America is back,” it is unclear if the US will stand up to Ankara’s renditions. The 2021 movie The Mauritanian brought to the screen the harsh reality of renditions, telling the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Turkey hides its renditions behind words like “forced repatriation.” Turkey however is hypocritical in this context. It has complained that Saudi Arabia targeted dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018. He was killed apparently in a botched rendition.  

Turkey has illegally kidnapped and renditioned people all over the world, including in Europe. Amnesty International said that “the Moldovan authorities must urgently rectify their failure to identify and bring to justice those involved in the shocking unlawful rendition of seven Turkish nationals in September 2018, at the request of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly repressive government, said Amnesty International. On 8 March the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will consider implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on the case.” Arab New revealed that “Germany-based Corrective, a not-for-profit newsroom, worked alongside a team of nine media organizations from eight countries to reveal how the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is kidnapping dozens of members of the country’s Gulen political movement from around the world.”  

Turkey has also kidnapped people from Albania. “Just over a year ago, Turkish citizen Harun Celik was released from an Albanian prison and whisked away to the airport. Hours later he was back in Turkey, where state media boasted that he had been returned in an operation carried out by the Turkish intelligence services,” the FT wrote. The article notes “ It is part of an assertive, sometimes uncompromising foreign policy by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has empowered the Turkish intelligence service and caused alarm among the country’s traditional western allies. Turkey and other authoritarian powers, such as Russia and China, view the Balkans as strategic because of the region’s proximity to the EU. Turkey has been involved in at least 60 renditions from 17 countries over the past three and a half years, according to the US-based democracy watchdog group Freedom House.” 

While Turkey kidnaps people from numerous countries, it is unclear why Ankara did not act to stop ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who was found living just a few kilometers from the Turkish border in Syria, in an area Turkey controls. Turkey can find people in Kenya, but not high level ISIS members, many of whom have transited through Turkey.  


Source: JP

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