Turkey to strip 130 people of citizenship on terror charges
Turkey says it will revoke the citizenship of 130 overseas nationals, including the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, over allegations of terror activities and crimes against the constitutional order, unless they return to the Anatolian country within a three-month period beginning from June 5.
According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, citing a notice by the Interior Ministry published in the Official Gazette on Monday, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) legislators Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer, and former HDP lawmaker Ozdal Ucer, were also included in the released list.
Shortly after the attempted coup in mid-July last year, Ankara blamed Gulen of masterminding and orchestrating the botched putsch, in which some 250 people lost their lives and about 2,200 sustained injuries. However, Gulen, 76, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1999 and strongly opposes Ankara, denies any involvement in the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Furthermore, the Turkish government, has branded the Gulen’s movement, as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).” Ankara has also tried for a number of times to convince Washington to extradite Gulen, but all to no avail.
A few days after the coup attempt, Turkey imposed a state of emergency, under which 150,000 people, most of whom accused of supporting the so-called FETO, have been sacked or suspended from the public sector, including teachers, academics, doctors and members of the armed forces. The state of emergency has been renewed three times.
More than 50,000 people have also been imprisoned on suspicion of having links to the coup and the FETO.
The notice further said the suspects should return to Turkey within the time limit and apply to the “relevant authorities” upon their arrival.
More than a dozen of HDP’s legislators are already behind bars in Turkey, including opposition party’s co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, facing hundreds of years inside for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is perceived by Ankara as a terrorist group and is in a middle of a bloody war with the Turkish government.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that a trend had commenced in Europe for spy agencies to employ journalists for espionage activities.
Turkish top diplomat, who made the remarks during a joint presser with his German counterpart in Ankara, also commented on the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, whom Turkey held in police custody in February over a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.
“Our independent judiciary is carrying out the process. The judiciary will make the decision on Yucel,” Cavusoglu added.
Ankara is under fire, both inside and outside of the country, for mounting heavy post-coup crackdown. Turkish authorities argue that measures are necessary due to the gravity of the failed putsch, however, critics President Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.