Turkish intelligence has arrested a cousin of an Islamic cleric and politician, Fethullah Gülen, in Kenya. The man was taken to Turkey.
Turkish state news agency Anadolu reports that he is a member of his uncle’s movement, which Ankara sees as the mastermind behind the failed coup in 2016.
Salahuddin Gülen, according to Anadolu, had left Turkey with the help of instructions from his uncle. The news agency, which relies on an anonymous source, does not report where and when the arrest occurred. The report shows a photo of the suspect in handcuffs and with Turkish flags in the background.
People and media linked to the preacher say Selahaddin was kidnapped in Kenya. His wife announced on May 20 via social media that she had not heard from her husband for weeks. According to her, she taught at a school in Nairobi. Turkish President Erdogan had announced a day earlier that a “key member” of the Gülen organization had been detained without naming him.
Erdogan sees his former ally and preacher Gülen as the head of a terrorist organization seeking to infiltrate and overthrow the government. The cleric, who has lived in the United States for years, denies that. He claims to run a peaceful network and to be in no way involved in the failed coup.
The coup attempt on July 15 2016 left 251 dead and more than 2700 injured. Tens of thousands of people have since been arrested who are believed to be linked to Gulen.
It is not the first time that Turkey has forcibly “repatriated” alleged Gülen allies from abroad. Turkish spies kidnapped six Turks in Kosovo in 2018. That then led to a political crisis in that Balkan country. The Minister of the Interior and the head of the intelligence services had to resign. Turkey has also pressured countries to close schools allegedly linked to Gülen’s movement. Kenya has previously refused to close six of those institutions.