Kyrgyz-Turkish Educator In Custody Says He Was Abducted By Kyrgyz Men

By RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Kyrgyz-Turkish educator Orhan Inandi, who is currently in Turkish custody, says he was abducted in Bishkek in late May by three Kyrgyz men, who may be part of the country's security services, before he was transferred to Turkey, where he is accused of involvement in terrorist activities.

In his first public comments on what happened surrounding Inandi's disappearance on May 31, lawyer Halil Ibrahim Yilmaz told RFE/RL on July 13 that his client told him that three men speaking fluent Kyrgyz, possibly officers of the Kyrgyz police, security services, or another Kyrgyz state entity, kidnapped him.

Kyrgyz officials have previously denied claims they colluded with Turkish intelligence to abduct Inandi. However, some Kyrgyz lawmakers have accused the Central Asian nation's security officials and the government of their complicity or incompetence in the case of Inandi.

According to Yilmaz, the abductors blindfolded Inandi and transported him by car for several hours before he was placed on a plane and brought to Turkey.

It was not clear whether Inandi was taken to Turkey via a third country.

The disappearance of Inandi, the head of the Sapat educational network in Kyrgyzstan, sparked numerous demonstrations in Bishkek, with protesters demanding the government find the educator.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 5 said agents from Turkish intelligence abducted Inandi and brought him to Turkey, describing Inandi as “a top Central Asian leader” of the movement led by U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a friend-turned-foe of Erdogan whom Ankara blames for a deadly 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey has cracked down hard on alleged members of the Gulen movement, which it considers a terrorist organization, arresting tens of thousands of people and purging the civil service and military. It has also pursued the Gulen movement abroad. Erdogan admitted more than 100 people with alleged links to the Gulen movement had been brought to Turkey from other countries.

Yilmaz told RFE/RL that his client has rejected accusations of being a member of a terrorist group.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement last week that Turkish and Kyrgyz authorities “abducted, forcibly disappeared, and extrajudicially transferred" Inandi to Turkey.

Erbol Sultanbaev, a spokesman for Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, denied the authorities were involved in the abduction, calling the charges “completely absurd." In a statement, the president’s office said they had issued a formal complaint to the Turkish ambassador about the issue. It added that there had been three prior attempts to kidnap the educator and all had been thwarted.

Inandi, 53, has lived in Kyrgyzstan since 1995 and holds dual Turkish-Kyrgyz citizenship.