Albanian Court Rejects Government/Turkish Deportation Attempts For ‘Gulenist’ Asylum Seeker

Albanian Court Rejects Government/Turkish Deportation Attempts For ‘Gulenist’ Asylum Seeker

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The Administrative Court of Appeal in Tirana has rejected the Albanian government’s attempts to deport Selami Simsek, a Turkish citizen trying to flee his country of origin due to fears of being persecuted for being considered a sympathizer of religious leader Fethullah Gulen.

On Thursday, Judge Blerona Hasa found the government decisions denying asylum to Simsek, and consequently paving the way to his deportation, “absolutely invalid”.

Simsek was denied asylum by the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship on 9 March 2020,  and the National Commission for Asylum and Refugees on 10 September 2020.

However, the court also rejected Simsek’s request that these institutions be compelled to accept his asylum request.

Simsek sued the Ministry of Interior after it rejected his asylum application, and asked the court to reverse the decision and grant him asylum. He lost in the first instance court.

Turkey accuses the Gulen Movement of being behind the failed coup in July 2016 that left hundreds of victims, but Gulen denies all allegations from his self-imposed exile in the United States.

President Recep Tayying Erdogan has led a crackdown on people and institutions affiliated with the movement, and declared it a terrorist organization. Tens of thousands of academics, journalists, teachers, activists, and workers in the civil service considered to be linked to the movement have suffered in different ways.

Simsek was arrested along with another Turkish citizen, Harun Celik, while travelling to Rinas Airport, transit to Canada with fake passports.

In January last year, the EU criticized the government after the deportation of Harun Celik, who had asked for political asylum.

The Albanian Ombudsman said the government had violated several laws in the process.

The United Nations said that Albania is complicit in extraterritorial abductions and forced disappearances of Turkish nationals.

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