Six Turkish nationals arrested in Kosovo over links to schools financed by the Fethullah Gulen movement that Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup have been extradited to Turkey, Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said on Thursday.
All six suspects were detained by Kosovo law enforcement early March 29 as a result of cooperation between the relevant government offices of the two countries and were handed at the airport to a special team deployed to Pristina by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
It is believed that thousands of Gulen-linked high-level military and civilian bureaucrats as well as other people have fled Turkey before and after the coup attempt.
According to Anadolu news agency, the six in Turkish custody were identified as Cihan Ozkan, Kahraman Demirez, Hasan Huseyin Gunakan, Mustafa Erdem, Osman Karakaya and Yusuf Karabina, and it said all were “senior members” of Gulen’s network.
It further added that they were responsible for recruitment in Gulen’s network and helping those in Turkey leave the country amid a security crackdown in which tens of thousands of people have been sacked or jailed over alleged Gulen links.
Ankara accuses Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric, of orchestrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and has declared his movement a terrorist organization. At its peak, the Gulen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the coup attempt, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gulen-run establishments.
“We have been facing enormous pressure from the Turkish authorities in the past weeks to take actions against Gulen schools and their staff,” a Kosovo government senior official told Reuters while speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Sarajevo, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said after a meeting with his Bosnian counterpart that more action should be taken against Gulen’s followers there, “especially in the sectors of education and business, and (we) want (Bosnia’s) continuous support for the solution of this problem”.
Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said his country would continue to cooperate with Turkey to prevent “any activity that may endanger Bosnia’s stability or its relations with Turkey”.
However, sources say that Bosnia has taken no concrete steps against the schools believed to be financed by the Gulen network, but some Turkish teachers have left the country under political pressure since the coup attempt.