Report: Moldova to grill secret service chiefs over expulsion of Turkish educators

Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Speaker of Parliament Andrian Candu, both members of the ruling Democratic Party, on Thursday summoned the heads of the country’s intelligence service for a hearing in parliament as concern grows over the sudden detention and expulsion of seven Turkish teachers, according to a report by news outlet Balkan Insight.

The report said the Moldovan government asked the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) to provide further information on the case of the detention and expulsion of a number of Turkish nationals working for a private high-school chain linked to the Gülen movement.

“We have called for parliamentary hearings in the case of the expulsion from the country of seven foreign citizens. It is very important to make sure that human rights and national and international norms have been respected in this case,” Candu said.

On Friday, President Igor Dodon joined the initiative and also asked for evidence from SIS, after earlier on Thursday accusing the media of double standards in the matter, referring to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Moldova over poisonings in Salisbury, England.

However, some political analysts said the latest move was just smoke and mirrors as the top Moldovan officials had long known about the Turkish regime’s demands for Moldova to hand over the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

“Parliament and the government have asked SIS to justify its extradition decision? Just formal hearings? Since when has SIS been acting on its own?” analyst Igor Munteanu asked rhetorically on Facebook, stressing that SIS only acts on political orders.

In May 2017, on a visit to Chisinau, then-Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım urged Moldova to close down the Horizont high school network due to its alleged links to the Gülen movement. Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip did not agree to, or reject, the request back then.

“If there is evidence, of course, we expect Turkish experts to come and contact our Intelligence and Security Service or the Interior Ministry, so we can address this issue legally,” Filip said on May 5, 2017, in Chisinau.

Meanwhile, students from the Horizont private high school chain in Moldova have launched an online campaign for their professors, called “Teachers, not terrorists!”

The case of the expelled Turkish professors has also been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to be examined in an urgent procedure.

The Turkish teachers were apprehended either on their way to school or in their homes. In one case the SIS agents broke into the house of the detainee. Hasan Karacaoğlu, Hüseyin Bayraktar, Rıza Doğan, Feridun Tüfekçi, Yasin Öz and Müjdat Çelebi are the detained Turkish nationals. Tüfekçi was the principal of the Ceadir-Lunga branch of the schools, and Doğan was the principal of the Durlesti branch.

With the exception of Bayraktar, the teachers all applied for asylum in April 2018 and were expecting a response from Moldovan authorities this month.

In March 2018 the general director of the schools, Turgay Şen, was detained by Moldovan security forces upon the Turkish government’s request for extradition but was released without charges.

Another Turkish educator in Mongolia, Veysel Akçay, was detained in July of this year for extradition at the request of the Turkish government, but due to the intervention of Mongolian authorities and international pressure, he was released.

The Turkish government has launched both a domestic and a global crackdown against the Gülen movement, accusing it of orchestrating a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denied any involvement.

More than 100 Gülen-linked Turkish nationals were brought back to Turkey through intelligence service operations and with the cooperation of other countries, including Kosovo, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Gabon and Myanmar.

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