Students protest the arrest and deportation of six Turkish nationals. Photo: Atdhe Mulla

Turkish citizens deported through a ‘commercial flight’

The six Turkish nationals forcefully removed from Kosovo in March were deported through a misrepresented commercial flight, the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed today.

The airline company, whose plane carried the six Turkish nationals who were forcefully removed from Kosovo to Turkey in March, misrepresented its flight’s purpose.

On March 29, six Turkish nationals were deported from Kosovo to Turkey after a joint operation of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, AKI, and the Kosovo Police. According to the Ministry of Interior, the deportees represented a threat to national security and were deported to their country of citizenship where they face charges for being members of the Fethullah Gulen movement, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

Dritan Gjonbalaj, director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority, CAA, said that the airline company which transported the six men was dishonest about the flight’s purpose.

“The Ministry of Infrastructure monitors commercial flights. The request for a flight was submitted to the ministry, the company lied about the flight’s purpose, and what happened meanwhile is being investigated. The CAA is not competent for this and thus has not been involved,” Gjonbalaj said at a meeting of the Commission for the Supervision of Public Funds.

At the time of the deportation, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and other political leaders claimed not to have been informed about the operation. As a result, Haradinaj sacked Interior Minister Flamur Sefaj and intelligence agency director Driton Gashi.

Infrastructure Minister Pal Lekaj confirmed that the ministry issued the permit for the carrier to fly, but that this was a regular procedure and that he too was unaware about the operation.

“None of the AAK people were involved,” Lekaj, who is a member of Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, said at the time.

According to Gjonbalaj, the ministry can fine commercial companies that carry individuals up to 1 million euros.

“I confirm from the documentation given to us by the ministry that the request was made for a commercial flight, they passed through the VIP terminal,” Gjonbalaj said.

22/05/2018 - 16:33

22 May 2018 - 16:33

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.