Saudi Arabia deports members of 16 Turkish families to Turkey over alleged links with Gülen movement

Saudi Arabian Kingdom has allegedly deported the members of 16 Turkish families to Turkey over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, reported by Yeni Hamle news portal.

According to the report, the members of 16 Turkish families have been kept in custody in a hotel for days and they have been deported to Turkey through a plane send by Turkish government on Thursday. Among those deported, the children and women were reportedly released in Turkey, however whereabouts of the men are unknown.

However, state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) reported that sixteen Turkish citizens were arrested in Saudi Arabia on Saturday over alleged links with Gülen movement. According to AA report, the detainees allegedly organized Hajj pilgrimage events in Saudi Arabia and transferring the income to Gülen movement. The report said the detainees were put on a plane and deported to Turkey. Later, the suspects were detained in Turkey by Ankara police department’s counterterrorism units.

AA report also emphasized on that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) played an active role in the arrests of the alleged 16 members of Gülen movement in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, monitoring website Turkey Purge has also reported that, according to a letter they have received, those Turkish nationals who were reportedly detained in Saudi Arabia on March 15 and have been kept in a hotel in Madinah for weeks, deported to Turkey.

The letter revealed that the victims were detained in four different Saudi cities over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Letter said the victims were later taken to Jeddah.

“They have not seen any judges, prosecutors. No accusations, nothing. Lawyers could not get involved. Their families got in touch with the United Nations. They sent several letters and emails. They had constant communication with the UN office in Riyadh. The UN could not resolve the issue. Two days ago, the families were taken to a hotel in Madinah. They were not allowed to leave the hotel. And today at noon, the 11 detainees together with their families were deported to Turkey,” the letter read. According to the letter the whereabouts of the 11 men are unknown.

Moreover, the 12-year-old T.K. has claimed asylum with the United Nations (UN) office in Saudi Arabia alone after his/her father was detained by Saudi officials as part of what many say Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ever-growing witch-hunt against the Gülen movement that has spread to overseas in the recent past. Yet, his/her refugee claim has been rejected.

Saudi authorities put travel ban on all Turkish nationals in their country with links to the Gülen movement, Turkish online news portal Haberdar said. Eleven Turkish nationals in four Saudi cities were further detained on March 15 and were kept in a hotel in Madinah for weeks, until they were deported to Turkey on May 4, according to a letter sent to His/her father, identified with initials A.K., a cancer patient who earns his living on selling dates, is reportedly among those detained.

Haberdar reported on May 6 that T.K. applied to UN for refugee protection alone while his/her father A.K. was in custody in Madinah hotel with his/her mother in Canada to visit his/her brother. Upon refusal, T.K. was too deported to Turkey along with his father, Haberdar said.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. However, the movement strongly denies any involvement. The movement is known for its education and aid activities in about 180 countries, but Turkish Foreign Ministry bureaucrats have been trying to expand domestic pressure to overseas subsidiaries of the movement recently.

May 4, 2017

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