Prosecution seeks up to 22 years in jail for Turkish nationals deported from Kosovo

Two of six Turkish nationals who were illegally handed over by Kosovo to Turkey in March 2018 face 22 years and 15 years jail time, respectively, the Diken news portal reported on Thursday.

Mustafa Erdem and Yusuf Karabina, two of the six deportees who were extrajudicially rendered by Turkish intelligence on terror charges with the help of Kosovar officials, made an appearance in the court for the first time.

The prosecution accused the suspects of taking part in the Gulen movement’s organization in Kosovo. Turkish government accuses the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt and deems it as a terrorist organization.

While the prosecution sought up to 22 years imprisonment for Erdem for leading the movement’s activities in Kosovo, Karabina stood trial for membership in a terrorist organization. The charge carries up to 15 years in prison, Anadolu Agency said.

Both suspects were also indicted for helping Gulen members in Turkey flee the country where the authorities have still been conducting operations since the coup attempt in a widespread crackdown.

Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) detained six Turkish nationals in Kosovo in March 2018 as part of Turkey’s extensive efforts to stamp out Gulenists living abroad.

Kosovo intelligence services were accused of being involved in Turkey’s rendition operation and made headlines in the Balkan country. A senior official told the local media on condition of anonymity, Turkish authorities pressured on Kosovo officials to take action against Gulen affiliated schools and their staff.

A Kosovar parliamentary committee launched an investigation into the allegations and found in March 2019 that Turkey circumvented due process with the complicity of Kosovo authorities to “abduct” its citizens who were legally residing in the Balkan country.

Turkey’s overseas operations against Gulenists and dissidents have raised concerns worldwide and prompted questions about how far Erdogan’s long-arm is reaching.

A total of 108 people with alleged links to the Gulen movement have been turned over to the Turkish justice system as of March 2019, according to figures provided by the Turkish Ministry of Justice.

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