Justice Ministry official in London recalled to Ankara over FETÖ case

Published 03.12.2018 15:41
Updated 03.12.2018 17:57

A Justice Ministry official at the Turkish Embassy in London was summoned to Ankara after a document over the extradition of three Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) suspects from the U.K. was circulated online.

The official was allegedly behind the document leak that purported to show cases against FETÖ in Turkey were baseless.

The extradition case involves Hamdi Akın Ipek, Talip Büyük and Ali Çelik. A London court rejected Turkey's request to extradite the three fugitives linked to the terrorist group last week.

In a written statement on Monday, the Turkish Justice Ministry said that the post shared on social media, allegedly sent by the Justice Ministry, did not reflect the truth.

"The post shared on social media allegedly sent by the Justice Ministry regarding FETÖ fugitive Akın Ipek's extradition process doesn't reflect the truth," the ministry said.

"Our ministry sent proper documents to the British court on Sept. 13. We have ascertained that our official in London prepared a one-page information sheet on his own and sent it to the British Prosecutor's office without ministry approval."

"It's clear that this information note, which was allegedly sent by our ministry and shared on social media accounts, didn't correspond with the procedures for correspondence in our ministry and didn't include any title, name or signature," it said.

"We launched a probe into our London attache and summoned him to Ankara on Nov. 30," it added.

An appeal process is underway in the extradition case and Turkish officials have denounced the ruling which they described as "unacceptable." The court ruled that probation conditions for the defendants, including seizure of their passports, will resume during the appeal period and they were ordered to stay in London during the process.

Most renowned among the three defendants is Ipek, who once ran a business empire in Turkey. Ipek was detained on May 23 after Turkey's request for his extradition over charges related to the July 15, 2016, defeated coup orchestrated by FETÖ.

The suspect left Turkey prior to the seizure of his Koza Holding by court order in October 2015. He lost lawsuits he filed in U.K. courts for the return of his assets seized by Turkey.

Ipek, who studied business in the United Kingdom, inherited a printing business from his father, and in the 2000s, his business empire considerably expanded — with some critics tying it to his links to FETÖ — and branched into the mining sector with a gold mine in western Turkey. He made a foray into media by buying the Bugün newspaper in 2005. It was followed by more media purchases, including Kanaltürk TV and the establishment of Bugün TV. Some newspapers and TV stations were well-known mouthpieces for FETÖ before Turkey moved to shut them down.

He is currently sought by Turkish authorities for "managing a terror group, financing terrorism, embezzlement and spreading propaganda for a terror group." Ipek's brother, Cafer Ipek, and mother, Melek Ipek, are among 45 defendants currently on trial in Turkey for FETÖ links with his business conglomerate.

In a previous case, the U.K. High Court rejected Ipek's wish to use up to 3 million pounds of his U.K. subsidiary Koza Ltd.'s money to fund his personal legal expenses in Turkey after an "essential artificiality" was found in the transaction papers of the company.

His U.K.-based private company Koza Ltd. reportedly possesses over 60 million pounds ($84.8 million) and is considered one of the main financial backers of FETÖ.

As part of their efforts to bring members of the FETÖ network back to Turkey, the authorities have made extradition requests for 452 suspects in 83 countries. The U.S. has received the highest number of extradition requests. Turkey has sent seven extradition requests for the group's leader Fetullah Gülen to Washington but has seen little progress with the process.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

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