Gulen ‘money man’ back in Turkey, says report

Memduh Cikmaz after being arrested. (Twitter image)
Updated 27 November 2017
0

Gulen ‘money man’ back in Turkey, says report

ANKARA: Turkish spies working in Sudan have repatriated a businessman accused of links to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen after he was caught in a joint operation, state media reported Monday.
Memduh Cikmaz is accused of giving millions to the movement run by US-based Gulen, who Ankara claims ordered the July 15, 2016 attempt to end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule.
Cikmaz was captured in a joint operation involving Sudanese intelligence after the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) located him two months earlier, security sources told Anadolu news agency.
Cikmaz, with business interests in petrol stations and brick factories, was returned to Turkey early on Monday, the agency said.
He had gone to Sudan in January 2016 but sources told Anadolu he continued to send millions of dollars to the movement.
Cikmaz was accused of “managing an armed terror organization” in a previous arrest warrant. Anadolu described him as the Gulen group’s “money vault.”
The agency said MIT had created a special team to locate suspected Gulenists abroad.
Turkey refers to Gulen’s group as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (FETO) but the movement insists it is peaceful and promotes education, denying any terror links.
Its network stretches from Turkey to Africa and Central Asia to the US.
Gulen denies Turkey’s accusations of involvement in last year’s failed coup.
Ankara launched a widespread crackdown on the group, arresting more than 50,000 people over alleged links since July last year.
During high-level diplomatic visits, Ankara has also urged Pakistan and Tanzania to crackdown on the Gulen network, especially its schools.

Police briefly detain academic
Turkish academic Fikret Baskaya was briefly detained on Monday as part of an operation targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Twelve other suspects were detained along with Baskaya, it said. Further information about the other suspects’ status was not immediately available.
Baris Yarkadas, a lawmaker from the main opposition CHP, wrote on Twitter that Baskaya, 77, had been detained at his home in the capital and that police had seized some of his personal possessions.
Baskaya, who is an author and university lecturer, was later released after giving a statement to police, another CHP lawmaker, Murat Emir, said in a tweet.
He added that Baskaya was detained over an article he wrote on Nov. 7, called “Real Terror is State Terror,” in which Baskaya said Turkey’s Kurds suffered oppression at the hands of authorities. The investigation is ongoing despite Baskaya’s release, Emir said.
Anadolu said arrest warrants had been issued for a total of 17 people on allegations of aiding the PKK and spreading the group’s propaganda on social media. Operations to detain the other suspects were ongoing.


Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

Updated 46 min 4 sec ago
0

Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

  • Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement
  • General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces on Saturday denied accusations by rights groups that they had coerced Syrians who had landed at Beirut airport into signing forms to return to their war-torn country.
Human Rights Watch and four other groups Friday accused Lebanon of “summarily deporting” at least 16 Syrians on April 26, after forcing them to sign “voluntary repatriation forms.”
Most of them had been sent back to Lebanon after they were barred from entering northern Cyprus via Turkey, quashing their plans to seek asylum, HRW said.
But Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement carried by state-run news agency NNA on Saturday.
“Any Syrian who arrives in Lebanon and does not meet entry requirements, and... wants to go to Syria because they do not wish to remain in their country of residence for a number of reasons, signs a declaration of responsibility for choosing to return voluntarily,” it said.
Lebanon hosts almost one million Syrian refugees, a significant burden for a country that had 4.5 million inhabitants before the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011.
The latest deportees said they were “pressured” by General Security officers at the airport, the rights group said.
Around 30 Syrians have been deported from Beirut airport this year by the General Security agency, the rights group said, citing local refugee organizations.
General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019.
The conflict has wound down in Syria, after a string of victories by the regime and its Russian ally since 2015, but the United Nations has stressed all returns should be voluntary.
The rights groups say some 74 percent of Syrians in Lebanon lack legal residency and are at risk of detention.
Local media in Lebanon have reported that the Supreme Defense Council, whose decisions are not made public, recently instructed General Security to deport all Syrians who have entered the country illegally.
The official NNA news agency, quoting a “security report,” said Friday that Lebanese authorities had deported 301 Syrians between May 7 and May 20.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions inside the country and abroad.
The war was triggered in March 2011 by a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.