Albania’s National Committee on Asylum and Refugees rejected Selami Simsek’s request to strike down a previous government decision to reject his asylum request on procedural grounds.
On September 10, the committee ruled by a 3-1 majority against Simsek’s asylum application, because he had allegedly filed an appeal too late, BIRN journalist Vladimir Karaj reported.
Committee members from the government – Merita Xhafaj of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Venera Domi of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Jetlir Gjergji of the Ministry of Education – voted against Simsek’s request. A fourth member, Ardita Kolmarku of the Albanian Helsinki Committee voted in favor. Three other Committee members failed to attend the meeting.
The Committee argued that Simsek, a Turkish citizen and an alleged Gulenist, has filed an appeal against the government refusal of his asylum request after the legal requirement of 15-days following the decision. Simsek had also refused to be notified for the refusal, they argued.
According to minority member Ardita Kolmarku, the committee could not prove that Simsek and his lawyer had been notified of the asylum rejection, nor has Simsek been provided with a translation of the decision. Kolmarku said the government’s denial of asylum was a “suspicious practice”, BIRN reported.
The government rejected Simsek’s asylum request on the day it was filed, March 3, 2020. It concluded that he and his family have no ties to the Gulen Movement, no serious danger is posed to them by the Turkish state, and that Simsek’s claims were not credible.
Simsek and his attorney said they were not notified of the government decision.
Simsek and another Turkish citizen, Harun Celik, were arrested en route to the Rinas airport, from where they would fly to Canada with fake passports.
They were both convicted in Albania for being in possession of fake documents.
Celik was then deported to Turkey after serving his sentence, even though he had sought political asylum.
Upon his arrival in Turkey, Celik faced charges of being part of the Gulen movement and was promptly arrested.
Their cases are being investigated by the UN Human Rights Commissioner.
Members of the European Parliament have called the European Commission to closely watch the Albanian government’s actions related to Simsek.
Simsek has the right to a last appeal with the Administrative Court of Appeals.