Turkish intelligence allegedly abducted Turkish businessman from Tajikistan

A Turkish businessman living in Tajikistan was allegedly abducted on Saturday morning by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the Kronos news website reported.

Koray Vural, a father of three, was reportedly abducted by men in masks while on his way to work. His two daughters, Sümeyra Nur and Yasemin Nur Vural, publicized the incident on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. 

“We are the daughters of Koray Vural. Our father was abducted by unidentified men in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe,” they said

In a following tweet the girls claimed their father had been abducted by MIT officers and was being held at the Turkish Embassy. “He will be taken to Turkey at three o’clock in the morning. We are asking the international community for urgent help,” they pleaded. 

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the Green Left Party (YSP), demanded an explanation from Turkish authorities. “Koray Vural’s family claims he was abducted by MIT. This would not be the first time!” he said on X. “Authorities need to clarify what happened to the Turkish plane that took off from Dushanbe airport.” 

Earlier Monday morning Gergerlioğlu gave a detailed timeline on his social media account of the incidents following Vural’s disappearance. “A plane took off for Dushanbe from Ankara at quarter to nine in the evening. It landed in Dushanbe at 5:50 a.m., and after waiting for half an hour took off again. Around 11:25 a.m. it arrived back at Ankara’s Etimesgut military airport.”

Vural had been living in Tajikistan since 1994 and had been working at schools linked to the Gülen movement. These schools were shut down in Tajikistan after a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, so he became an entrepreneur and worked in commerce. 

His Turkish passport had expired in 2020 and had not been renewed by the authorities. Fearing for his safety, Vural had appealed to the United Nations to relocate to another country. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, 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 the 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.

Since the coup attempt Erdoğan has employed extralegal methods to secure the return of his critics after official extradition requests were denied.

On July 4, 2023 teacher Emsal Koç was abducted from his home in Tajikistan and taken to Turkey. He was reportedly kept at a police station in eastern Erzurum province, where he was forced to give details on other Gülen movement members in that country. 

Turkey’s intel agency MİT confirmed in its yearly report that it had conducted operations for the forcible return of more than 100 people with alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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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