Erdogan's Turkey

BERLIN - Early one morning, a jet with the tail marking TC-KLE landed in the capital of Kosovo, Pristina. Two hours later it took off with six Turkish citizens, five of them teachers, landing later at an airbase in Ankara, a joint investigation by nine international media coordinated by CORRECTIV found.

The wife of one of the men said her husband had been abducted by local men who had presented themselves as policemen, after stopping him on the highway in a village near Pristina.

>> The full investigation: Kidnapped, escaped, and survived to tell the tale: How Erdogan's loyalists tried to make us disappear <<

The plane used in Kosovo is owned by the Turkish tourism and construction company Birlesik insaat Turizm Ticaret ve Sanayi. It is registered in Ankara; its address is an apartment building belonging to the Turkish intelligence service, near its headquarters.

#Mongolia gov't reportedly grounds Bombardier class TT4010 plane, operated by Turkish Air Force, but used by Turkish intelligence MIT for secret operations, at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in #Ulaanbaatar. Turkish intel abducted a teacher, long-time resident of #Mongolia

— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) July 27, 2018

According to a website that monitors planes, the jet that was used for the alleged abduction was seen in September parked next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plane while he was visiting Germany. According to the website ADS-B-Exchange, which monitors flights, in early December the plane landed in Venezuela while Erdogan was visiting that country.

Also, in widely reported incident in July, there was a foiled attempt to bring a school principal back from Mongolia to Turkey. He was working in a school associated with Erdogan's nemesis Fethullah Gulen in the capital Ulan Bator.

After the man was arrested, his family complained in the media and at the last minute the Mongolian government prevented the plane that had been sent from Turkey from taking off. The jet, photographed by the media, had the tail marking TT-4010. Documents show that the plane is also registered as belonging to the tourist company located in the compound belonging to the Turkish intelligence service.

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>> Read more: There are no checks and balances in Turkey, there's only Erdogan, Israeli expert explains ■ Erdogan's long arm: The Turkish dissidents kidnapped from Europe

In the majority of the cases, Turkey is greatly helped by countries where Turkish citizens are arrested. Thus, in September, seven employees of a high school associated with Gulen’s movement were arrested in Chisinau (Kishinev), the capital of Moldova, and flown to Turkey.

According to the Moldovan media, the seven Turkish citizens were picked up by local policemen at home or on the way to the school and flown to an airport near Istanbul. Moldovan authorities said they cooperated with Turkey in arresting the seven men because they “posed a danger to national security.” In this case, the men were flown to Turkey on a plane usually used for chartered flights.

According to senior Turkish officials, Turkey has so far brought back 100 people linked to the Gulen organization, from 18 countries. Amnesty International has complained about these abductions from foreign countries, which are illegal. According to the abductees’ families, after their return to Turkey, many of these men are accused of terrorism and put in regular prisons.

>Rachel Goldberg

Haaretz Contributor

Rachel Goldberg

Rachel Goldberg

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