Middle East

Turkey spy agency brings back 6 Gulenists from Kosovo: report

In this photo on Thursday July 21, 2016, Mustafa Erdem, general director of the Gulistan Educational Institutions in Kosovo, stands outside the Mehmet Akif College near the town of Lipjan, Kosovo. Kosovo police have arrested five Turks, among them Mustafa Erdem, working with a group of schools owned by the cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for an attempted coup two years ago. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

ISTANBUL: Turkey's spy agency Thursday brought back from Kosovo six members of U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen's movement blamed by the government for orchestrating the 2016 coup, Turkish state media reported.

In an operation carried out between Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and Kosovo's spy services, six high-ranking members of the Gulen movement were brought back home on a private plane, Anadolu news agency reported, citing security sources.

The suspects, whose pictures after capture were published by Anadolu, were allegedly in charge of Balkan activities of FETO - an acronym Ankara uses to describe the movement - and of allegedly infiltrating the group's members into Europe and the United States, it added.

But officials in Kosovo described them as teachers of a Gulen school and put the number of arrests at five while some media talked of six.

"There are sufficient legal grounds for the revocation of the residence permit for the persons in question in the territory of the Republic of Kosovo ... due to state security circumstances," the Kosovan interior ministry said in a press release.

Concrete details on reasons the Turkish teachers were arrested were not given.

The principal and the teachers of "Mehmet Akif College" in Pristina were arrested early in the morning while going to work, their families said.

The media reported that the only justification for the arrest could be the alleged link of their school to Gulen, who is declared by Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan as Turkey's biggest enemy.

The preacher lives in Pennsylvania and is accused in Turkey for the military coup against the Turkish government in July 2016. He strongly denies the claims.

Adem Vokshi, lawyer of the arrested had earlier said that he could not meet his defendants as the police did not give him any detail on the operation, saying it was ongoing.

"This has given us a lot of concern and we suspect they plan to deport them without regular court proceedings. By law, this should not happen."





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