Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has renditioned two men from Algeria as part of its international abduction campaign against alleged members of the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency (AA).
Mustafa Tan and Mustafa Bircan were handed over to the Ankara police after their rendition, AA reported.
The two are accused of organizing the movement’s presence in the North African country and being in contact with high-level members based in the US, according to the report.
Turkey is often identified as a major perpetrator in reports related to transnational repression, a concept used to describe autocratic governments’ diplomatic or extrajudicial attempts at harassing, intimidating, abducting or silencing critics living in foreign countries.
A Freedom House report published earlier this year found that Turkey was behind 132 incidents of direct and physical transnational repression between 2014 and the publication date, describing the country as the world’s second most prolific perpetrator.
The Gülen movement is the highest priority of Ankara’s campaign, with more than 1,000 abductions confirmed and acknowledged in MİT’s 2022 annual report.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the 2013 corruption investigations, 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 an 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.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.