President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, meets with President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his official visit to Ankara (President-ksgov.net)
Six Turkish nationals arrested in Kosovo over links to schools financed by the Fethullah Gulen movement that Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup have been extradited to Turkey, Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said on Thursday.
The Kosovo Interior Ministry said the residence permits of the six had been revoked after their arrest for "security reasons," but did not elaborate. Anadolu said the six were now in Turkish custody.
Anadolu identified the six people as Cihan Ozkan, Kahraman Demirez, Hasan Huseyin Gunakan, Mustafa Erdem, Osman Karakaya and Yusuf Karabina, and said all were "senior members" of Gulen's network.
It said the six were responsible for recruitment in Gulen's network and helping those in Turkey leave the country amid a security crackdown in which tens of thousands of people have been sacked from their jobs or jailed over alleged Gulen links.
Kosovo's Prime Minister tweeted on Thursday that he had not been informed of the deportation before it took place:
Today, in the operation conducted by #Kosovo Intelligence Agency, 6 turk citizens have been deported. Myself, as the Prime Minister, was not informed about this operation, therefore I will act according to my legal and constitutional competencies.
— Ramush Haradinaj (@haradinajramush) March 29, 2018
Ankara accuses Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric, of orchestrating the 15 July 2016 coup attempt, and has declared his Hizmet movement a terrorist organisation.
Gulen has repeatedly denied involvement in the coup attempt.
At its peak, the Gulen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the coup attempt, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gulen-run establishments.
"We have been facing enormous pressure from the Turkish authorities in the past weeks to take actions against Gulen schools and their staff," a Kosovo government senior official told Reuters in condition of anonymity.
Authorities in Kosovo, whose population is mainly Muslim, said earlier there no plans to shut down Gulen schools.
Turkey is a major supporter of impoverished Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Turkish firms run the tiny Balkan country's sole airport and electricity network, and are building two highways worth around $2bn.
In Sarajevo, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said after a meeting with his Bosnian counterpart that more action should be taken against Gulen's followers there, "especially in the sectors of education and business, and (we) want (Bosnia's) continuous support for the solution of this problem".
Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said his country would continue to cooperate with Turkey to prevent "any activity that may endanger Bosnia's stability or its relations with Turkey".
Bosnia has taken no concrete steps against the schools believed to be financed by the Gulen's network, but some Turkish teachers have left the country under political pressure since the coup attempt.