Andrej Hunko, Rapporteur on Albania for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has given exclusive comments to Exit on the “worrying extradition” of Harun Çelik from Albania to Turkey.
“We took notice of the worrying extradition of Mr Harun Çelik and we will closely follow the situation. According to the CoE European Convention on Extradition, there shall be no extradition on political offences.”
He added that under the CoE Human Rights Convention, member states have to ensure that human rights of all persons on their territory will be respected.
“An extradition to a state where a fair trial is at least doubtful is not in line with these responsibilities,” he explained, meaning that the actions of Albanian authorities could find them in violation of not just one convention they are signatory to, but two.
He continued that while they do not have ongoing communication with Albanian authorities, there is an ongoing debate in the CoE’s committees and they will publish an assessment of the matter in a report.
Hunko said that he is very concerned about the methods which Turkey is using to get people extradited from other countries. He highlighted instances in Moldova where teachers were deported in 2018. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the extradition was violating the Convention and sentenced Moldova to pay some EUR 25,000 for each person deported.
Even if the deportation was due to legal issues as the authorities have claimed, they would still be violating his human rights under the Human Rights Convention.
Earlier this week, lawyers of Çelik sent an official letter to the Ministry of the Interior and the State Police in Albania requesting information regarding his situation.
In the letter, they asked the authorities if Çelik’s departure from Albania is expulsion or was due to interference from Turkey.
Çelik was arrested five months ago and imprisoned awaiting trial. During this time he asked for political asylum but was denied by prison authorities. Instead of facing trial in Albania, he was sent back to Turkey at the alleged request of the Turkish government where he believes his life is in danger.
His lawyer Alban Bengasi said that even for an act of deportation, an administrative act such as an exclusion order must be brought against him. Under Albanian law, the person concerned has the right to challenge the decision in administrative court before the action is executed
Çelik is alleged to be a ‘Gulenist’- a member of an organisation that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims were behind the failed 2016 coup attempt. Since then he has enacted an international crackdown on anyone he believes is linked to the movement. Some 150,000 civil servants, police officers, soldiers, judges, teachers, and academics have been suspended, imprisoned or hauled before the courts, along with thousands of journalists.
Erdogan has also demanded the expulsion of so-called Gulenists from a number of countries around the world.
Turkey does not provide passports or ID cards to citizens that it considers being supporters of the Gulen Movement, leaving many to flee to the West using false documents.
The Democratic Party have called for an investigation into the circumstances of his removal from Albania by the President, the Ombudsman and the Prosecution and called the incident a “kidnapping”.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Edi Rama did not respond to questions sent by Exit relating to the matter.