Carlos Ghosn escape: Turkey comes under intense fire

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Turkish police officers escort suspects, accused of involvement of Nissan's former CEO Carlos Ghosn passage through Istanbul, after he fled Japan, in Istanbul, Friday. (AP)
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TC-RZA, the private jet used during the escape of ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon through Turkey. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 January 2020

Carlos Ghosn escape: Turkey comes under intense fire

  • Turkey acts contrary to the spirit of an international operation, says security expert

JEDDAH: Turkey has come under intense fire after the stunning escape of ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.

Security experts have called into question Turkey’s international responsibilities.

To make matters worse for Istanbul, a former Interpol official, who spoke to Arab News on condition of anonymity, said Turkey had dismissed the organization’s Red Notices many times in the past.

“Turkey’s Justice Ministry ignored the presence of red notice for many criminals who were sought by Interpol and it even didn’t accept giving a temporary arrest decision for the catalogue crimes. It is just a reflex for not taking any responsibility,” he said, adding that: “Ghosn’s case showed us that Turkey acts contrary to the spirit of an international operation. Under normal circumstances, it should have given its decision of arrest within hours without letting the suspect to flee.”

Video by AFP showing Turkish policemen taking seven people to an Istanbul court after they were arrested on suspicion of aiding Ghosn escape from Japan.
A prominent security expert and an ex-military officer based in Ankara spoke to Arab News on condition of anonymity and said that the preliminary findings of the investigation show that there is an internationally organized crime gang behind it.

Turkish private aircraft operator MNG Jet, which filed a criminal complaint, said on Friday that its planes were used illegally by the international fugitive.

An employee from the company had admitted falsifying records and did not include Ghosn’s name in the general declaration form about the flight.

But Ghosn’s freedom could come at the cost of the liberty of those who helped him.

Seven Turkish nationals including four pilots, who were detained on Thursday under the investigation of Turkish Interior Ministry, were sent to court on Friday.

If they are founded guilty, they will be charged with Article 79 of the Turkish Penal Code that regulates migrant smuggling and human trafficking. If sentenced, they are facing a prison sentence of three to eight years.

Turkey has been an Interpol member since June 13, 1956.

A Turkish lawyer based in the Malatya province said people who are sought by the red notice should be considered criminals by all members of Interpol.

“Helping these suspects to flee from Turkey also constitutes a crime of complicity under article 238 of the Turkish Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence from six months to five years,” he told Arab News.

The lawyer added that Interpol serves as a communication channel between the member countries on cooperation in criminal matters, but it doesn’t have binding authority over its members.

On its website, Interpol states: “The legal basis for a Red Notice is an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the country concerned. Many of our member countries consider a Red Notice to be a valid request for provisional arrest.”


Turkish military visit raises fears of Syrian operation

Updated 35 min 1 sec ago

Turkish military visit raises fears of Syrian operation

  • The Chief of General Staff accompanied the high-profile visit
  • Turkey has conducted three cross-border operations in Syria against Daesh and the Kurdish YPG militia since 2016

ANKARA: A further visit by Turkey’s Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, and senior military officials to troops along the Syrian border, along with plans to hold meetings with commanders, have raised fears of a new Turkish military operation.
The Chief of General Staff, Gen. Yasar Guler, accompanied the high-profile visit, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also attended some meetings via telephone.
Turkey has conducted three cross-border operations in Syria against Daesh and the Kurdish YPG militia since 2016.
Navar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, said an imminent operation is unlikely, due to the increasing cost of a military move.
“Logistically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to launch another operation in an area that has this many complexities, including a Russian presence, Daesh cells and Syrian regime operations. Even if they win, it will bear significant costs for troops on the ground because of security problems in northwestern Afrin and northwestern Idlib provinces,” he told Arab News.
However, Saban also said the visit is unlikely to be random.
“It is for coordination on the ground to manage clashes with different actors. But it wouldn’t trigger a new operation in the short term,” he said.
On Friday, US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces announced a new campaign to fight remnants of Daesh across the border with Iraq following a recent increase in attacks.
Last month, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) blamed Daesh for exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to “regroup and inflict violence on the population.”
“Intermittent clashes and ground-based strikes between pro-government forces and armed groups continue to be reported in western Aleppo and southern Idlib,” the OHCHR said.
The resumption of violence in Idlib has sparked concern in Ankara about a possible wave of immigration toward the Turkish border, where Turkey has deployed troops.
On Friday, one Turkish soldier was killed and two were wounded following an attack on an armored ambulance in Idlib. The region has seen an increase in attacks since December.
On May 27, a Turkish soldier was killed in an explosion on a highway in Idlib.
Kyle Orton, a UK-based Syria researcher, said that another Turkish operation into Syria remains unlikely for now, as previous cross-border operations already gave the country a military foothold.
“The American presence in Syria has always been the major roadblock to Turkey dismantling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) statelet, and the Americans want a withdrawal from Syria, quite possibly before the election in November,” he told Arab News.
Orton said that Turkey can get what it wants by maintaining its position, as there are potential political advantages in fighting Daesh in the vacuum left by the US.
“If the Americans are still in Syria in, say, a year, then Ankara might reconsider its view,” he added.