Turkey’s intelligence service abducts 2 people from Azerbaijan and Ukraine over Gülen links

İsa Özdemir and Salih Zeki Yiğit

Two people were detained abroad and transported to Turkey by agents of the country’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Turkish citizens İsa Özdemir, who was detained in Azerbaijan, and Salih Zeki Yigit, who was detained in Ukraine, were brought to İstanbul by private plane on Thursday afternoon by MİT agents.

The MİT agents had abducted six teachers in Kosovo on March over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In cooperation with Kosovar intelligence, MİT’s abduction of the teachers had sparked widespread debate and drew ire from around the world.

MİT has abducted 80 Turkish nationals from 18 countries so far over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said in April. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Jan. 5, 2018 that 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since a coup bid in 2016.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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