From: Exit Staff
Alleged Gulenist Takes Legal Action to Overturn Asylum Refusal

The lawyer of Turkish citizens Selami Simsek announced that he has filed a lawsuit to suspend his deportation and to overturn the decision of the National Commission for Refugees and Asylum which had refused to grant him asylum in Albania.

Elton Hyseni filed the complaint in court while Simsek remains in the Karrec immigration detention centre in Tirana.

Simsek and his lawyer and asking that the March order of the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship at the Ministry of the Interior, requesting his expulsion to Turkey be overturned as well.

On September 10, the National Commission for Asylum and Refugees decided to reject his asylum application. They said his appeal was made late and used that as grounds for refusal. This was disputed by the Albanian Helsinki Commission who said that there were several issues with the procedure including the notification of the decision and whether there were translators present. The Committee also noted the danger of being imprisoned in Turkey were not considered by the Commission.

Sismek is accused of being a “Gulensit” which is designated as a terrorist organisation in Turkey. Those believed to support the Gulen Movement are imprisoned.

He was arrested with another Turkish citizen Harun Celik at Rinas Airport and was found carrying a fake passport. Both individuals said they were fleeing from persecution in Turkey and asked for asylum. Celik was sentenced to five months in prison and was then sent to Turkey despite having sought political asylum.

Following Albania’s treatment of Simsek and Harun Celik, the United Nations Arbitrary Detention Group raised several issues and questions with Albania.

The EU Delegation in Tirana had also reacted to the situation in January, stating the government should follow procedures and international obligations.

EU spokesperson said: “We expect Albania to uphold principles of the judicial process and its international obligations, notably under the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention.”

The Convention centres on the main principle which is non-refoulment which specifies a person must not be returned to a country where they face a serious risk to their life or freedom.

The Turkish government and President Erdogan believe that the Gulen Movement or FETO is a terrorist organisation. Following the failed 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan blames them for it and has cracked down on those alleged to be a part of it. This led to the imprisonment, arrest, or suspension of the license of thousands of soldiers, judges, teachers, and journalists. Fethullah Gulen who has lived in American since 1999, condemned the coup and denied any involvement.

In February, the Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu urged the Albanian government to hand over Gulenists to the country.

The Turkish minister claimed that Gulenists are “not only a threat to Turkey but to countries where they are located,” adding that they were “controlled by some countries’ secret services.” Cavusoglu said they must be returned to Turkey, reminding the government that they “expect the support and contribution of Albania” in education and other matters. He added that there are many Gulenists in Albania and that the government “has taken some steps” but Turkey expects it to do more.