Kosovo's prime minister on Friday fired both his interior minister and the country's intelligence chief for secretly deporting five Turkish teachers and a Turkish doctor without his permission, sources reported.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said Interior Minister Flamur Sefaj and the head of the country's intelligence service, Driton Gashi, had not told him about their decision. The six men were arrested, lost their Kosovo residence permits and deported on Thursday, and were arrested upon arriving in Ankara.
Addressing lawmakers, Haradinaj said he considered the deportations a "violation of the decision-making hierarchy," adding that it was a bilateral operation of the intelligence services of both countries.
"This is an institutional precedent that should not happen in the future," he said.
The Turkish teachers worked with schools owned by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric who the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for an attempted coup two years ago. Tens of thousands of Gulen supporters have been arrested or lost their jobs in Turkey since the July 2016 attempted coup.
Turkish media, however, called the six deported Turks members of the Gulen "terror group's branch in the Balkans."
Erdogan on Friday hailed the role his country's intelligence police played in the deportations, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
"Our National Intelligence Organization brought six senior FETO representatives in the Balkans back to Turkey in cooperation with Kosovo intelligence," he said.
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.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned Bosnia and Herzegovina against Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
Yildirim paid an official visit to the capital Sarajevo on Thursday and Friday.
Speaking to reporters, he said: "FETO is an issue for the entire world. The Balkan countries and in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina should not show negligence. The biggest danger is negligence."
Yildirim said that Turkey does not want its friends to experience the sufferings it went through during the failed coup attempt.