The wife of a teacher who is a nephew of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen has claimed that her husband was abducted by operatives of the Turkish government in Kenya due to his relationship to Gülen, local media reported on Wednesday, citing a video released by the woman.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday revealed in televised remarks that they had recently apprehended an important member of “FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the cleric’s faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, adding that he will announce that person’s identity soon.
Hours after Erdoğan’s revelation, Seriyye Gülen released a video on YouTube in which she said her husband, Selahattin Gülen, a teacher, went missing on May 3 in Kenya, where he has been living for the past seven months.
“I haven’t heard from him [since May 3]. … At this point, I don’t know how, but I think it’s very likely that he was abducted [by people working for the government] and taken to Turkey on May 5,” she said.
Gülen also argued that her husband was kidnapped solely due to being a relative of Fethullah Gülen, calling on authorities to find Selahattin Gülen and release him immediately.
The incident follows the enforced disappearance of nearly 30 people with real or alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, labeled as a terrorist organization by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and accused of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, since the abortive putsch.
Some of the enforced disappearance victims in Turkey have spoken out in court, after they were found in police custody, recounting the systematic and severe torture they were subjected to during their interrogation by government operatives, who, victims said, waited until their wounds had healed to hand them over to the police.
According to a recent report by Freedom House on global transnational repression Turkey has become number one among countries that have conducted renditions from host states since 2014. The Turkish government has pursued its perceived enemies in at least 30 different host countries spread across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since July 2016.
“Ankara’s campaign has primarily targeted people affiliated with the movement of religious leader Fethullah Gülen, which the government blames for the coup attempt,” the report said.
Although both Gülen and the members of his group strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activities, Erdoğan’s AKP has jailed some 96,000 people while investigating 622,646 over alleged links to the movement as part of a massive purge launched under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, according to official data.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.
The Turkish government has been targeting members of the movement, which conducts educational activities as well as charity work around the world, since corruption investigations in late 2013 that implicated Erdoğan’s close circle. The governmen’s war against the movement culminated in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt.