By Harut Sassounian,
For many years, dozens of reports have been written about the Turkish government’s large-scale kidnapping of Turkish citizens from around the world for criticizing Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime.
Exiled investigative Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt has exposed these illegal Turkish activities, providing copies of confidential documents he has received from sources inside the Turkish government. Not surprisingly, Turkey has issued a warrant for his arrest. He publishes the Nordic Monitor in Sweden.
Bozkurt wrote an article on Nov. 3, 2022, in Nordic Monitor, titled: “Spying by Turkish diplomats continued in 2022 with new targets in Norway, Netherlands, Greece.”
Bozkurt published a secret Turkish document issued by the Security General Directorate on June 7, 2022. He revealed that Turkish diplomats stationed at embassies and consulates overseas continue “the unlawful practice of intelligence gathering on critics and opponents in Europe.”
Bozkurt reported that “Two Turkish diplomats, then-Press Attaché Hacı Mehmet Gani and Hakan Kamil Yerge, then-second secretary at the Turkish Embassy in Bern, plotted to drug and kidnap a Swiss-Turkish businessman in 2016. In June 2018, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland issued arrest warrants for the two Turkish diplomats.”
In addition to attempting to seize and return home its opponents, the Turkish government jails their relatives at home and confiscates their assets.
In a second article published in Nordic Monitor on Nov. 4, 2022, titled: “Turkish intelligence continues to spy on journalists in Sweden,” Bozkurt reported that Levent Kenez, editor of Nordic Monitor in Sweden, “was spied on by Turkey’s intelligence agency, which leaked his private information to the Turkish media. [Sabah], a newspaper run by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family, published photos of Kenez last Tuesday in front of his apartment in Stockholm, where he lives with his family, and disclosed his address and details of his daily routine,” endangering their lives. It is clear that after silencing his domestic critics, Erdogan is now trying to silence his critics abroad.
A third article titled, “Turkish diplomats exploited US Homeland Security website to track a dissident in the US,” was published by Bozkurt in Nordic Monitor on Nov. 2, 2022.
Bozkurt revealed a secret Turkish document which showed that the Turkish intelligence agency used the website of US Customs and Border Protection to track a Turkish doctor in the United States who is critical of the Turkish government. It is a crime to access the personal information of individuals on the U.S. government’s website.
Bozkurt reported that in the years 2016-17 alone, Turkish embassies and consulates profiled 4,386 critics of Turkey who were residing abroad. In 2021, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Turkish diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates have officially been instructed by the government to conduct clandestine spying operations on foreign soil. In addition, pro-Erdogan Turkish networks and organizations overseas have acted as the long arm of the Turkish regime.
In 2019, the U.S. government convicted Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish government operative, for running surveillance on opponents of Erdogan in the United States. Alptekin remains a fugitive and is currently hiding in Turkey, while his associate Bijan Rafiekian was tried and convicted of acting covertly in 2019 as an agent of the Turkish government in the United States, without disclosing that relationship to the U.S. government, according to Bozkurt.
Matthew Amlot published in Al Arabiya an article on July 12, 2020, titled: “Turkey signed secret agreements with countries to abduct dissidents from abroad.” According to a joint letter written by four UN rapporteurs, “Turkey signed secret agreements with multiple countries [Azerbaijan, Albania, Cambodia, and Gabon] in order to conduct extraterritorial abductions of suspected state dissidents … Turkey also targeted [its] nationals in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Pakistan, according to the letter.”
The UN letter stated that “The Government of Turkey, in coordination with other States, is reported to have forcibly transferred over 100 Turkish nationals to Turkey, of which 40 individuals have been subjected to enforced disappearance, mostly abducted off the streets or from their homes all over the world, and in multiple instances along with their children.”
Alice Taylor wrote in “Exit News” that “in November 2018, the Turkish Foreign Minister informed Parliament that 452 extradition requests had been sent to a total of 83 countries.”
Yasir Gokce wrote an article published on Nov. 25, 2018 in Harvard University’s Kennedy School Review, titled: “Turkey’s Kidnappings Abroad Defy International Law.” These illegal abductions should be brought in front of the U.N. Security Council and the International Court of Justice, Gokce suggested.
In 2020, Johan Heymans in collaboration with International Observatory of Human Rights published a 128-page report, based partly on a report by the Ankara Bar Association, documenting the specific cases of deportation or abductions of Turkish citizens from 17 countries: Moldova, Azerbaijan, Gabon, Sudan, Kosovo, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Lebanon, Malaysia, Switzerland, and Mongolia.
Finally, OpenDemocracy.net published an article by Serdar San on June 16, 2021, titled: “Turkish spies are abducting Erdogan’s political opponents abroad.”
Serdar San correctly observed that “emboldened by a lack of repercussions from NATO and the EU, President Erdogan’s regime is kidnapping dissidents” to silence political dissent. This is the fault of Western governments for turning a blind eye to the illegal behavior of successive Turkish governments, encouraging them to continue violating domestic and international laws for decades.