The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched an investigation into the 2020 arrest and extradition from Albania of Turkish citizen Harun Çelik and the arrest of Selami Şimşek, who could face extradition imminently.
In a letter sent to the Albanian government, they underline the following:
“While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we are concerned that the imminent forcible returns of Mr. Selami Şimsek and other Turkish nationals currently residing in Albania may place them at serious risks of being subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, and possibly enforced disappearance and torture in transit and upon arrival in Turkey. We are equally concerned that Mr. Çelik appears to have been expelled for his alleged connection to Hizmet/Gulen movement, reportedly without any due process guarantees afforded by relevant legislation, most notably Law 108/2013 “On Foreigners”.
OHCHR lists a number of international documents they suspect the Albanian government may have violated by extraditing Çelik, as well as a number of specific questions on procedures followed in the two cases.
The two Turkish citizens arrested in Albania are accused by the Turkish government of being part of the Gulen movement, designated by the Turkish government as terrorists and organizers of the failed state coup in 2016. It is suspected that their fundamental human rights have been violated during their arrest, the refusal of their asylum request, and their extradition.
Şimşek and Çelik were arrested en route to the Rinas airport, from where they would fly to Canada with fake passports.
Celik was convicted to 5 months in prison and was 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.
In late January 2020, Şimşek was convicted of falsifying documentation and was sentenced to a year in prison. His asylum request was denied, even though extradition to Turkey could threaten his life. It is suspected that he is being held, in contradiction to all regulations, in the Ministry of the Interior, that is preparing to extradite him to Turkey.
The EU delegation to Albania told Exit that the government is expected to “uphold principles of judicial process and its international obligations, notably under the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention.” The Council of Europe deemed Celik’s extradition and the possible violation of human rights “worrying.”