Turkish secret agents arrest Fethullah Gulen’s cousin in Kenya

Turkish spies seized a cousin of a longtime enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Kenya and returned him to Turkey, media and family said Monday.

Ankara accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen of inventing a failed coup in 2016 that left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Since 2016, Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people suspected of having links to Gülen.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported that Selahaddin Gulen had been brought back to Turkey by agents of the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT), citing unnamed security sources, but did not say in which country he was arrested.

In a video posted on social media on May 20, Selahaddin’s wife confirmed that the couple lived in Kenya and that she had not heard from her husband, who taught at a school in Nairobi, since May 3.

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Individuals and media associated with Gulen’s movement said on social media that Selahaddin had been “kidnapped” in Kenya when they launched a campaign calling for his release.

Selahaddin Gulen has been accused of being a member of the “terrorist organization FETO,” the description Ankara uses for Fethullah Gulen’s movement.

“We will soon announce the imprisonment of a very important FETO member. He is in our hands,” Erdogan said on May 19, referring to Selahaddin Gülen likely.

The pastor, who lives in Pennsylvania, insists he heads a peaceful network of charities and businesses, and denies all ties to the 2016 coup bid.

But Erdogan, who was once an ally of Gulen, today describes him as the leader of a “terrorist” group trying to infiltrate and overthrow his government.

Since the failed coup, Turkey has “repatriated” dozens of people accused of being part of Gülen’s network, regardless of the repercussions such actions may cause abroad.

The kidnapping of six Turkish nationals in Kosovo by MIT agents in 2018 sparked a political crisis in the Balkan country, leading to the firing of the interior minister and the intelligence chief.

Ankara has also put pressure on many countries, especially in the Balkans, Central Asia and Africa, to shut down schools associated with the “Gulenist” movement.

Kenya refused to close six outlets in 2016, despite Ankara’s insistence.

It was not immediately clear whether Selahaddin Gulen was seized with the agreement of the Kenyan authorities.

In 1999, Turkish services arrested the leader of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, in Kenya. Ocalan is still imprisoned in Turkey.

The PKK has been conducting an uprising against Turkey since 1984 and has been blacklisted by Ankara’s western allies.

The raids continue against alleged Gulen members, with police operations almost daily to arrest suspects across the country.

Since 2016, more than 140,000 public sector workers, including teachers and judges, have also been fired or suspended for suspected links to Gülen.


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