From: Exit Staff
Alleged Gulenist Rejected Asylum in Albania Struggling to Avoid Illegal Extradition to Turkey

Turkish citizen Selami Simsek, an alleged Gulenist whose asylum request in Albania was reportedly refused, is struggling to avoid extradition and remain in the country.

On Friday, News 24 TV reported that Simsek has requested the Albanian government to cancel its decision to refuse his asylum request, and stop possible ongoing procedure for his extradition to Turkey.

Simseks request to Albanian government to cancel refusal of asylum request
Simsek’s request to Albanian government to cancel refusal of asylum request

Simsek fears persecution by the Turkish government if he is sent back. 

He and his lawyer claim they were not informed by authorities that his asylum request was refused, although (art.37 of) the law stipulates that he should have been informed within 5 days. They said they learned of the Albanian government’s decision from the media, about four months later. Hence, Simsek has been unable to file an appeal with the court.

Simsek and another Turkish citizen, Harun Celik,  were arrested in Albania while they were trying to fly to Canada using fake passports.

They were both convicted for being in possession of fake documents.

Celik was deported to Turkey after serving his sentence, even though he had sought political asylum. He was promptly arrested upon his arrival and faced charges for being a Gulenist.

Simsek was released by the Appeals Court, where his case is still being reviewed. He applied for asylum on March 9, 2020, upon release from prison. The Albanian government refused his request on the same day, after it reached the conclusion that he was not a member of the Gulen movement and the Turkish state posed no “serious danger” to him or his family. Simsek claims the Albanian authorities did not investigate his claims in the asylum application.

Albanian Government refusal of Simseks asylum request
Albanian government’s refusal of Simsek’s asylum request

On the same day, March 9, Simsek was held without an explanation for several hours at the Ministry of Interior. Authorities refused to respond to journalists’ requests as to why he was being held.

Simsek’s family feared that the Albanian government was attempting to extradite him, in violation of domestic and international laws.

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.

The government of Albania has a list of cases in which it has disregarded its international obligations and the repeated calls of the international community to refrain itself from any unlawful conduct under international law.