Teacher abducted from Kyrgyzstan given 21-year prison sentence over Gülen links

President Erdoğan acknowledges in a statement following a Cabinet meeting that Orhan İnandı was actually rendered to Turkey by MİT.

A Turkish court has handed down a prison sentence of 21 years on terrorism charges to Orhan İnandı, a Turkish-Kyrgyz educator rendered to Turkey from Kyrgyzstan by Turkish intelligence in 2021, Turkish Minute reported, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

İnandı was sentenced by the Ankara 23rd High Criminal Court on Friday on charges of “running an armed terrorist organization” due to his links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

The movement is labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and accused of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. Both Gülen and his followers strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

İnandı, who was the founder and director of the prestigious Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing at the end of May 2021 in Bishkek and was found in detention at the Ankara Police Department in early July. He was feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) due to his links to the Gülen movement as Turkey’s intelligence agency has been involved in unlawfully transferring people to Turkey from countries around the world.

Kyrgyz lawmakers, citizens, prominent rights groups and activists around the globe held protests at the time, urging the Kyrgyz government to locate İnandı.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had acknowledged in a statement in July 2021 that İnandı was actually abducted by MİT, lauding the Turkish spies’ efforts in the rendition.

An indictment drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in July 2021 charged İnandı with “managing an armed terrorist organization” and sought a prison sentence of up to 22 years.

Photos of İnandı in handcuffs prompted allegations of torture due to İnandı’s visible weight loss and swollen right hand when he reappeared at the Ankara Police Department a month after his disappearance.

At the first hearing of his trial in November 2021, İnandı confirmed the suspicions and said he was subjected to torture for 37 days and broke into tears as he recalled the details for an hour and a half. At the beginning of his testimony, the judges wanted to prevent him from talking about those days, but İnandı insisted.

Human Rights Watch earlier said in a statement that the abduction, forcible disappearance and extrajudicial transfer of İnandı to Turkey by Turkish and Kyrgyz authorities amounted to egregious violations of international and domestic law.

Since the coup attempt in July 2016 the Erdoğa government has employed extralegal methods to secure the return of its critics after its official extradition requests have been denied. The government’s campaign has mostly relied on renditions, in which the government and its intelligence agency MİT persuade the relevant states to hand over individuals without due process. The victims have been the subjects of a number of human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, house raids, torture and ill-treatment during these operations.

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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