Controversy over Bulgaria's Handover of G?len Backers to Turkey
Authorities' move to send seven Turkish nationals back to their homeland has been questioned by allegations that at least one of them demanded a trial in Bulgaria or was promised to face a court in the same country.
A witness, who is the son of one of the men deported to Turkey, has told private bTV station that his father had sent a message on Friday evening that he was in Bulgaria and would appear before court there.
The man called again a few days later, on Tuesday, to inform he was in Istanbul and was to be put on trial there, but has not been heard since then, the witness has claimed.
According to Turkish daily H?rriyet, the men were suspected of ties to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah G?len and his movement, which authorities in Ankara refer to as a terrorist organization, dubbing it "FET?" and blaming it for the failed coup attempt of July 15.
One of the Turkish nationals sent back to Bulgaria is also said to be a journalist with Zaman, a daily newspaper linked to G?len that was taken over by authorities.
Mehmed ?mer, who was the Editor-in-Chief of Zaman Bulgaria, also maintains their rights were infinged by Bulgarian authorities during their 24-hour detention.
Border police authorities maintain none of the detainees asked for asylum or to contact a lawyer.
Bulgaria's national ombudsman, Maya Manolova, however warned that the deportation procedure had been carried out in breach of the legislation as she had not been informed in advance.
Human rights activists for their part insist the procedure might have been flawed by a lack of translator and contacts with the ombudsman or rights organizations.
Reports emerged recently that two other Turkish nationals might also have been handed over to Turkey.
In August, a decision of Bulgarian authorities to expel businessman Abdullah B?y?k despite turning down Turkey's extradition request filed for the man it describes as a "G?lenist" also sparked controversy.
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