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Kyrgyz Authorities Look Into Abduction Of Educator Who Turned Up In Turkish Custody

Supporters of Orhan Inandi demonstrate near the Turkish Embassy in Kyrgyzstan on June 2.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities have launched a probe into abduction of a Kyrgyz-Turkish educator who was illegally taken to Turkey, where he faces a lengthy prison term on terrorism charges which he and his supporters vehemently deny.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said on August 17 that an investigation was launched into "negligence" and the "violation of border-crossing regulations" by border guards who were on duty when Orhan Inandi was illegally taken out of the country after he was kidnapped in late May.

The disappearance of Inandi, the head of the Sapat educational network in Kyrgyzstan, sparked numerous demonstrations in Bishkek, with protesters demanding the government locate him.

In July, Turkish officials said agents from Turkish intelligence abducted Inandi and brought him to Turkey, describing Inandi as "a top Central Asian leader" of the movement led by U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a friend-turned-foe of Erdogan whom Ankara blames for a deadly 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey has cracked down hard on alleged members of the Gulen movement, which it considers a terrorist organization, arresting tens of thousands of people and purging the civil service and military. It has also pursued the Gulen movement abroad.

Kyrgyz officials have denied claims they colluded with Turkish intelligence to abduct Inandi. However, some Kyrgyz lawmakers have accused the Central Asian state's security officials and the government of complicity or incompetence in the case of Inandi.

Inandi's lawyer, Halil Ibrahim Yilmaz, told RFE/RL in July that his client said three men speaking fluent Kyrgyz, possibly officers of the Kyrgyz police, security service, or another Kyrgyz state entity, kidnapped him.

Yilmaz told RFE/RL that his client has rejected accusations of being a member of a terrorist group.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement at the time that Turkish and Kyrgyz authorities "abducted and extrajudicially transferred" Inandi to Turkey.

Erbol Sultanbaev, a spokesman for Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, denied the authorities were involved in the abduction, calling the charges “completely absurd."

In a statement, the president's office said it had issued a formal complaint to the Turkish ambassador about the issue. It added that there had been three prior attempts to kidnap the educator, and all had been thwarted.

Inandi, 53, had lived in Kyrgyzstan since 1995 and holds dual Turkish-Kyrgyz citizenship.

Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK) chief Kamchybek Tashiev has said that since Inandi kept his Turkish citizenship after he obtained Kyrgyz citizenship, Turkish authorities have a right to prosecute him.