Albania's rejection of Turkish asylum seeker sparks concern over Ankara influence - Balkan Insight

The asylum request rejection by Albania of a Turk accused of being a member of the Gülen religious group, one of the most prominent terrorist-listed organisations sought by Turkish security forces, has sparked concerns about the increasing influence of the Ankara on Albania’s human rights obligations, Balkan Insight said on Wednesday.

On Sept. 10, Albania’s National Commission for Asylum and Refugees rejected an appeal against a previous denial of asylum by a Turkish national, Selami Şimsek, despite local and international calls on Tirana to honour its obligations to protect refugees, the website said.

Turkey blames U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen and his followers for the failed coup of July 15, 2016 and has since carried out a worldwide crackdown on the group. Many members of the movement have fled to European countries to avoid persecution. 

The Gülen movement denies any involvement in the failed putsch, which left 251 killed and 2,200 wounded. 

The commission has dismissed Şimşek’s claim that he could be politically prosecuted if extradited to Turkey, Balkan Insight said, noting Şimşek remains in detention at a centre for illegal immigrants and has a right to appeal the latest decision.

In May, United Nations rights officials expressed concerns regarding the Şimsek’s case.

Ankara’s influence in the Balkans has allowed the Turkish government to expand its purge against Turkish citizens after the coup attempt in 2016, including the extradition of Turkish nationals by the Turkish intelligence services.