Albania deports first Gullenist supporter to Turkey, allegedly violating human rights

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 9, 2020 14:37

Albania deports first Gullenist supporter to Turkey, allegedly violating human rights

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  • Lawyer Bengasi said it is unusual for a person detained for falsifying documents to be held in custody for so long while adding his client's further fate, after deportation, is unclear.

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TIRANA, Jan. 3 – Albania ordered the first deportation of a member of the Gulen movement to Erdogan’s Turkey on Wednesday evening, January 1, 2020, raising concerns about violations of fundamental human rights. 

State police said they deported Harun Celik, 42 years old, a teacher by profession, who was arrested five months ago in an attempt to flee to Canada.

Social networks reacted on Wednesday on the news of Celik being sent to Rinas Airport while an hour later, State Police spokesman Gent Mullaj confirmed to regional media that the person in question was “expelled from the country.” 

“The person was in jail after being apprehended by the Rinas border police with false documents. Pursuant to the ‘aliens’ law, he will be expelled,” Mullaj said.

The office of Prime Minister Edi Rama said when asked by BIRN that “sentencing is a matter of legal proceedings not related to the prime minister.”

Through this act, Albania joined a small number of states that obey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s request to send to Turkey any person linked to the Fethullah Gulen global movement, whom he accuses of being the mastermind of the 2016 failed state coup.

In February 2015, Kosovo expelled five wanted Turkish citizens, sparking international outrage and harsh criticism from the EU and US for violating due process of law and violating fundamental human rights. 

A lawyer for Celik told the Voice Of America that actions against his client were in violation of the law and that the prosecution should investigate these unlawful acts.

According to lawyer Alban Bengasi, Celik had told his legal representative that he had left Turkey as a supporter of the Gülen movement because of threats to his life.

The lawyer said that “Celik asked for political asylum officials but this was rejected by the prison police authorities.”

Meanwhile, Mullaj told Voice of America that the Turkish citizen “was convicted and released from prison on Wednesday …under the law on aliens, legal procedures for leaving Albania have been undertaken.”

Asked by Voice of America if Celik had sought protection from Albania as an endangered political activist in his country, the spokesman replied that “there was no further information.”

However, Bengasi said it is unusual for a person detained for falsifying documents to be held in custody for so long while adding his client’s further fate, after deportation, is unclear.

The opposition Democratic Party demanded “immediate transparency” about the event, raising the question of whether such action is in breach of laws, international conventions or human rights.

“It is a priority for any democratic country, especially in the process of European integration, to respect these principles, rights and obligations. Their transgression is back in order for Edi Rama’s corrupt and incriminated government,” the PD declared.


Legal proceedings towards ‘Gullenist’ teacher’s deportation remain unclear 

The Albanian lawyers who defended the 42-year-old teacher by profession in the court case still do not know for what reasons and on what legal basis he was taken on 1 January by the Immigration and Border Authorities and boarded the Air Albania flight to Istanbul.

For this, they have officially requested information about what happened to their client, a fact that raises further questions about the Albanian side’s actions.

Mullaj used the term “expulsion” provided by the Aliens Act, which also specifies the cases when this measure is exercised. It remains unclear where the 42-year-old’s case comes from, but the law does, however, provide a several-day deadline for the execution of the removal order, while Celik was reportedly only given a few hours. 

As soon as he was released from prison, he was taken over by the Immigration and Border Authorities, who have informed him of the obligation to leave for Turkey.

Moreover, the same law recognizes, through a special article, the right to appeal. 


Deportation receives international criticism 

European Parliament MP Ramona Strugariu reacted immediately by criticizing the Albanian government through a status on Twitter.

“Prime Minister Edi Rama, Albania signed the CoE Convention on extradition. Moreover, you say Albania is ready for the EU. Then please follow art.19, al. 2 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and do not extradite #HarunÇelik to Turkey!,” she wrote. 

The article reads: “no one may be removed, deported or extradited to a state where there is a serious risk that he or she may be subject to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment.” 

Andrej Hunko, Rapporteur on Albania for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also gave exclusive comments to on the “worrying extradition” of Harun Çelik from Albania to Turkey.

“We took notice of the worrying extradition of Mr Harun Çelik and we will closely follow the situation. According to the CoE European Convention on Extradition, there shall be no extradition on political offences.”


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 9, 2020 14:37