Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

top
Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen is a former Erdogan ally, but the president now accuses him of masterminding the coup

Africa

In Kenya, mystery and silence over Gulen abduction

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 8 – How did a foreign citizen disappear from Kenya’s police headquarters and end up under arrest in Turkey, despite a court order banning his extradition?

A week after it emerged that Selahaddin Gulen, whose uncle is a longtime foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been forcibly returned to his country, Kenya has remained silent on the abduction and any role it might have played.

Rights activists say the incident has put the spotlight on Kenya’s history under President Uhuru Kenyatta of ignoring court orders and collaborating with foreign security agencies.

Since 2016, Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people suspected of having links with US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of masterminding a failed coup in 2016 that left hundreds dead.

According to court documents filed in Kenya, his nephew Selahaddin Gulen, 30, a US permanent resident, travelled to the country on October 17 where he was arrested at the airport after clearing immigration.

Ankara had sent out an alert to Nairobi saying that Gulen was wanted for “child molestation” and asking that he be extradited to Turkey.

His lawyers said that the alleged child molestation case was “tried and concluded with an acquittal of the applicant in 2018”.

They argued that “the Turkish government is on a protracted campaign to prosecute and persecute the applicant together with his family”, saying that Selahaddin’s brother, sister and 62 other family members were currently imprisoned.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“Their only crime was that they were related to one Fethullah Gulen,” said a court filing.

The preacher, who lives in Pennsylvania, insists he is the head of a peaceful network of charities and companies, and denies any links to the 2016 coup bid.

In March, a Kenyan judge issued orders barring authorities from deporting Selahaddin — who was also in possession of an asylum seeker pass — to Turkey.

 

– ‘Forcefully seized’ –

 

Under his bail conditions, Selahaddin had to report to the police every Monday.

According to an urgent court application filed by his lawyer Jotham Arwa on May 5, it was when he had presented himself at the main police headquarters in Nairobi two days previously that he was last seen.

Arwa accused Kenyan authorities of having “forcefully, wantonly and egregiously seized and detained the applicant incommunicado” in a “hasty and clumsy attempt to circumvent the law” and send him back to Turkey.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu said Selahaddin was brought back to Turkey by intelligence agents.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Police and immigration officials have not responded to numerous requests for comment.

Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher in East Africa, Otsieno Namwaya, told AFP that in Kenya the narrative is that he was kidnapped by Turkish agents outside the police headquarters.

“Even if that were true, how did he get out of the country?”

“How do foreign agents manage to grab someone, and go out with him and take him to JKIA (international airport) and fly him outside the country? Without anyone asking questions? How can the government keep quiet on that issue?”

Namwaya said HRW planned to send a letter to the government demanding an explanation.

“The Kenyatta administration has become very notorious for collaborating with foreign security agencies and kidnapping foreign nationals who are in Kenya for security reasons,” he said.

 

– Kenyatta vs the judiciary –

 

Namwaya recalled the case of two prominent critics of the South Sudanese government, lawyer Dong Samuel Luak and opposition member Aggrey Idri, who were kidnapped from Nairobi in January 2017, just days after a court blocked their deportation to South Sudan.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The United Nations said in 2019 it was “highly probable” the two men, who were taken back to Juba, had been executed by security agents.

Namwaya said HRW has heard many reports of Rwandans, Burundians, Congolese and Ethiopians being picked up in Kenya and forcibly returned to their homes, in many cases with the involvement of Kenyan security forces.

“The hostility of the Kenya government towards asylum seekers and refugees is just astonishing,” he said.

“The government as it is now doesn’t respect the courts at all.”

Last week, the Law Society of Kenya slammed a “continuous onslaught on the judiciary by the executive” after Kenyatta criticised the judiciary for recently blocking his attempts to reform the constitution.

Kenyatta also brought up a particularly sore issue, the nullification by the Supreme Court of his election victory in 2017 over widespread irregularities.

Kenyatta later won the re-run which the opposition boycotted.

Kenya and Turkey have close ties, but in 2016 Nairobi refused to close schools linked to the Gulenist movement despite pressure from Ankara.

In 1999, Turkish services arrested the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, in Kenya. Ocalan remains imprisoned in Turkey.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Comments
Advertisement

More on Capital News

Top stories

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Tingiza Mti dominated the manifesto launch of Roots Party Presidential Candidate George Wajackoyah on Thursday night where he shocked...

August Elections

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Roots Party Presidential Candidate George Wajackoyah has rooted for the legalization of Marijuana in the country saying that if...

AUGUST 9 COUNTDOWN

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Deputy President William Ruto has vowed to “end all unauthorized evictions and property demolitions” if he clinches the Presidency...

August Elections

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Roots Party Presidential candidate George Wajackoyah says he will remove all hyenas in Kenya and export them to China....

COUNTDOWN TO 2022

We will Legalize Bangi! 1 acre of Bangi can earn you $78,000 or Shs.8 million per harvest. The whole of Nyeri county is 583,000...

August Elections

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – The Roots Party Presidential candidate George Wajackoyah says he will move Kenya’s Kenya’s capital from Nairobi to Isiolo. Speaking...

AUGUST 9 COUNTDOWN

The Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate said reforms were necessary to bring down the cost of healthcare.

AUGUST 9 COUNTDOWN

While outlining his manifesto, Ruto said he will be intentional on preserving and protecting the lives of Kenyans.