URGENT ACTION: Detention of Turkish nationals in Kosovo and their possible extradition to Turkey

Turkey Institute kindly request urgent action from MPs, MEPs, heads of European missions, human rights organizations and members of the press regarding detentions today (29 March 2018) in the early morning in KOSOVO of Turkish nationals Mr. Mustafa ERDEM, Mr. Yusuf KARABINA, Mr. Kahraman DEMIREZ, Mr. Cihan ÖZKAN, Mr. Hasan Hüseyin GÜNAKAN, employees of Turkish Educational Institutions in Kosovo and Prof. Osman Karakaya and their prospective extradition to Turkey.

LONDON – 29 March 2018

Turkey Institute kindly request urgent action from MPs, MEPs, heads of European missions, human rights organizations and members of the press regarding detentions today (29 March 2018) in the early morning in KOSOVO of Turkish nationals Mr. Mustafa ERDEM, Mr. Yusuf KARABINA, Mr. Kahraman DEMIREZ, Mr. Cihan ÖZKAN, Mr. Hasan Hüseyin GÜNAKAN, employees of Turkish Educational Institutions in Kosovo and Prof. Osman Karakaya and their prospective extradition to Turkey.

Kosovan online media has been reporting that six Turkish nationals who have legal residence and/or working permit in the country have been detained by Kosovan police on demands of the Turkish regime and that the operations are continuing on against other Turkish nationals alleged to be affiliated with the Gulen Movement and that the six were being kept at an airport in Kosovo to be extradited to Turkey without any legal procedure.

Sources from the UN apparatus in the country suggested that the list of to-be-detained Turkish nationals living in Kosovo includes 200 names. Lawyers of the teachers have complained to the local media that they are not being informed about the whereabouts of their clients and that even the Kosovan authorities suggest that the issue is out of their control and that the operations have been carried by Turkish intelligence officers.

Turkish newspapers also reported about the incident and claimed that the six were already transferred to Turkey, with Anatolian Agency (AA) even publishing the pictures of the detained in front of Turkish flags, apparently shot at a location at the Turkish mission in Kosovo.

The six Turkish nationals detained up until now are, Mr. Mustafa Erdem, general director of Mehmet Akif College run by Turkish businesspeople in Kosovo, Mr. Yusuf Karabina, deputy director of the same school, Mr. Kahraman Demirez, director of the Djakovica branch of the school, Mr. Cihan Ozkan, a biology teacher, Mr. Hasan Huseyin Gunakan a chemistry teacher from the same school and Prof. Osman Karakaya, a Turkish medical doctor apparently staying in the country as a tourist. Mr. Mustafa Erdem also carries an Albanian citizenship. The Interior Ministry of Kosovo declared today that the residence permits of the six were cancelled today.

The detention came a month after a February visit by Deputy Minister of Justice of Turkey Mr. Bilal Ucar complaining about the schools run in this country by the alleged Gulenists. Kosova had previously detained another Turkish national Mr. Ugur Toksoy on alleged grounds of involvement with Gulen Movement but a Kosovan court suspended the extradition process due to lack of material evidence. The fact that the detentions came on the day of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s visit to the Balkans is also troubling. Turkish nationals with alleged links to the Gulen Movement had occasionally been detained and subjected to lengthy interrogations in order to ease the pressure of the Turkish politicians during their trips to friendly countries.

A report by Reuters today suggested that several Balkan countries have been subjected to pressure from Turkey and that Turkey is using its economic support to impoverished Kosovo in order to pressurize this country. Turkish firms run the tiny Balkan country’s sole airport and electricity network and are building two highways worth around $2 billion.

Turkey Institute is concerned that;

  1. The number and extent of detentions may increase during the day as already hinted by Kosovan police and UN sources in the country;
  2. The detainees may be subjected to unnecessary interrogation and extradition to Turkey where their chances of receiving neutral and just treatment are very dim if they are not already sent back to Turkey;
  3. The fact that the Kosovan authorities are not collaborating with the lawyers of the detained hints to a possible bypassing of the legal processes within the country;
  4. The family members of the detained may also be detained and extradited to Turkey.

Turkey is not a safe country for alleged and real affiliates of the Gulen Movement. Several international organizations have reported on torture and mistreatment in Turkish prisons of the alleged members of the Gulen Movement including a most recent condemnatory report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Under such conditions, it is of utmost urgency and necessity that EU member states, Members of the UK Parliament, Members of the European Parliament and the Human Rights associations from all around the world express their concerns about these detentions and prospective extraditions of Turkish nationals to Turkey.

Any effort to forcibly deport these individuals to Turkey, or any other place where they may face torture, ill-treatment and a real risk to his life, violate both, the Constitution of Kosovo and its obligations under international law deriving from Article 22 of the Constitution [Direct Applicability of International Agreements and Instruments], notably the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In line with these concerns, only in the last 18 months, three separate United Kingdom courts, the German Federal Constitutional Court, and a Czech court have dismissed extradition requests filed by Turkey. Please see Charles v Mugla Chief Public Prosecution Office Republic of Turkey, Turkey v Nurhak Talay and ‘German court halts the deportation of Turk convicted of Islamist support‘. Also, see the Arrested Lawyers Initiative’s report on extradition to Turkey by clicking here:

As the detentions are still continuing on and as from tomorrow (Good Friday) onwards it will be very hard to reach to Kosovan authorities, we are calling all relevant parties to act swiftly and write to their Kosovan counterparts and ask for an immediate halt to these detentions and to any prospective extradition to Turkey.

For further information please contact:

Att. Leo Trim Syla
Lawyer of the detained Turkish nationals
[email protected]
+377 442 702 40

Mr. Kerim Balci
Research Fellow, Turkey Institute
[email protected]
+44 7931 227497

About Turkey Institute

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