Interior Ministry: Turkish National Returned to Country of Origin, Not "Deported" or "Expelled"
Sofia, September 20 (BTA) - Turkish national Selahattin Urun has
been returned to his country of origin on September 18 in
accordance with the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement, the
Bulgarian Interior Ministry said in a press release on Sunday.
The Ministry reacted to a September 19 Facebook post by
Bulgarian MEP Ivo Hristov (Party of European Socialists), who
alleged that Urun, whom he described as a "political fugitive",
was handed over to the Turkish authorities even though he was to
be released from prison on September and to appear in an
administrative court on September 29, where he is challenging a
denial of refugee status. Hristov specified that Urun, 39, is an
activist of the Peoples' Democratic Party and is a former
mayoral candidate for Uludere.
The Interior Ministry dismissed as false and "manipulative
insinuations" websites' allegations that the Turkish national
was "expelled" or "deported" to Turkey.
The Ministry explained that 'return to the country of origin'
was imposed on Urun on December 18, 2019 as an administrative
measure under the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act
because he resided in Bulgaria unlawfully. After the Turkish
national served a nine months' prison sentence in Bulgaria for
this offence, the measure was applied to him pursuant to the
Agreement between the EU and Turkey on the readmission of
persons residing without authorization. The procedure for the
enforcement of the measure was initiated on September 2 as a
search of the Interior Ministry databases established that the
person had been denied refugee status and there were no legal
obstacles to removing him outside the EU common borders.
A total of 431 persons residing in Bulgaria without
authorization have been taken out of this country's territory
since 2016 after the conclusion of the EU-Turkey Readmission
Agreement, the Ministry specified.
Urun's defence lawyer Valeria Ilareva told www.segabg.com that
the Interior Ministry's Migration Directorate whom she
approached refused to talk to her but she found out from third
parties that her client had been deported to Turkey. On
September 29, the Sofia Administrative Court is scheduled to
hear Urun's appeal against a decision of the State Agency for
Refugees refusing to grant him international protection.
On September 14, the German magazine "Der Spiegel" published an
investigative report according to which Turkey exerted direct
pressure on the Bulgarian authorities to hand over Turkish
businessman Abdullah Buyuk, suspected by Turkey of ties with
what Turkey calls 'the Fethullah Gulen's Terror Organization
(FETO)'. Buyuk was surrendered to the Turkish authorities on
August 10, 2016 even though two Bulgarian courts had rejected
the request for his extradition as politically motivated. The
magazine report, based on classified cables from the Turkish
Embassy in Sofia, alleged that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko
Borissov and the then prosecutor general Sotir Tsatsarov
violated international conventions and legal principles by
helping Turkey prosecute several opponents of President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan. Bulgarian journalist Dimiter Ganev (one of the
five authors of the "Der Spiegel" story) said that the then
Turkish Ambassador in Sofia Suleyman Gokce lobbied Borissov,
Tsatsarov and the internal and external intelligence chiefs for
Buyuk's expulsion. According to Ganev, some 90 Turkish nationals
have been expelled under the same procedure as Buyuk, who has
now lodged an application against Bulgaria with the European
Court of Human Rights.
On September 14, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry categorically
denied "media insinuations" that the executive branch of
government in Bulgaria had violated the law in implementing the
policy of removing unlawfully residing persons from this
country's territory. The Ministry said that Buyuk was one of 68
Turkish nationals who were coercively taken to the border in
2016 because they resided in Bulgaria without authorization. The
Migration Directorate established that Buyuk had not applied
for international protection and that he had been denied asylum
by the Administration of the President. The Directorate found
that Buyuk had entered Bulgarian territory in February 2016 on
invalid personal documents.
In his own denial of the same date, Tsatsarov argued that
neither he as prosecutor general nor the Bulgarian prosecution
service were involved in that procedure and that Buyuk was not
extradited but was handed over to the Turkish authorities under
the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. "I can clearly
state that I have not committed any violations of the law. In
this and in other similar cases that have necessitated official
contacts with foreign diplomats in Bulgaria, I have strictly
adhered to the powers vested in the prosecutor general and to
Bulgarian national interests," Tsatsarov pointed out. NV/LG