From: Alice Taylor
Albania Deports Wanted Turkish Citizen Despite Asylum Plea

Turkish citizen Emre Olur, press advisor to mafia boss Sedat Peker was deported from Albania on Sunday after being arrested at Tirana International Airpot, despite asking for asylum.

Olur is wanted for a raft of offences in Turkey, including membership of a criminal organisation, assault, threats, and various charges of insulting. It is believed he left Turkey for North Macedonia in May 2021 before trying to go to Dubai. He was deported and travelled to Serbia before crossing to Albania.

“As a result of the direct contact established by the Albanian General Directorate of Security, Albanian Interpol and the Ministers of the Interior, the person who was determined to cross from Serbia to Albania Tirana was taken into custody by the Albanian police at Tirana Airport on 17.09.2022 at 06:00,” the Turkish Minister of Interior said in a statement.

He was then arrested upon arriving at the airport and then sent to Istanbul, where he will face interrogation and criminal proceedings, they added.

Olur’s Albanian lawyer, Arben Llangozi, said he was deported without undergoing the correct legal process, adding he had requested asylum in Albania, fearing his life would be in danger if he returned to Turkey.

Under the law, an asylum request can be made verbally or in writing and must go through all proper legal channels. Considering the short time frame between his landing in Tirana and being deported (several hours), concerns have been raised that the law was not followed.

“The law on asylum made in 2021, clearly defines that when a foreigner addresses the country with an asylum request, he must be taken immediately to a designated place of residence and provided a temporary residence permit as the process takes six months, and he cannot be deported immediately.”

Following a failed coup d’etat in 2016, Erdogan imprisoned and declared wanted thousands of Gulenists- followers of cleric Fethullah Gulen. Thousands more fled the country for the West, and many more worked in networks of Gulen-affiliated schools and universities worldwide.

Meanwhile, Erdogan started pumping money across borders into countries such as Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia.

In Albania, Turkey is one of the most prominent investors in infrastructure and business, but the investment to the tune of billions came with strings attached.

“A precondition to our support and brotherhood,” Erdoğan told Albanian parliament in January 2022, “is your commitment to the fight against FETÖ”, adding that “it is our sincere expectation that more concrete, decisive and rapid steps will be taken,” against them.

In 2019, Turkish citizen Harun Celik entered Albania with a fake passport and tried to seek asylum but was deported without having the opportunity to appeal the decision in a move described by the Albanian ombudsman as violating national law and international conventions.

Selami Simsek, who entered the country with Celik, was also set to be deported. He was denied asylum by the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship on 9 March 2020 and 10 September 2020, but fought his case and won.

The EU and various MEPs condemned the moves and called on the government to ensure compliance with the Geneva Refugee Convention.

In July 2020, United Nations rapporteurs found that the Turkish government had signed a number of “secret agreements” with various states to enable systematic “extraterritorial abductions and the forcible return of Turkish nationals”.

At the time, they reported more than 100 people had been subject to “arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture” due to collaboration between the Turkish government and countries such as Albania, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Gabon, Afghanistan, and Cambodia.

While Olur is not a Gulenist, or suspected of being one, the fact he was deported without due process has raised significant concerns.