Moldovan and international human rights organizations have criticized a decision by the country’s authorities to detain and expel seven Turkish citizens.
"The expulsion of these people to Turkey poses an imminent danger to their life and security and also the risk of not receiving a fair trial," Moldova’s Center for Legal Resources of Moldova and the Promo-LEX human rights group wrote in a joint statement on September 6.
Moldova's state security service, the SIS, announced it had expelled seven foreign nationals because they allegedly posed a "risk to national security," without mentioning their nationality.
The detainees were staff members of a Turkish high school in Chisinau’s Durlesti neighborhood that is linked to U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Gulen, who lives in the United States, rejects the claim.
A teacher who was also detained but later released told reporters, "We do not know exactly what is happening, but we think that this is an order from Turkey."
The Turkish authorities have not immediately commented on the case.
Nicolae Esanu, a secretary of state at the Justice Ministry, said the consequences of this action were a cause for concern.
"I hope there are solid documents in the SIS dossiers justifying the expulsion of the Turkish citizens because ... we can only avoid a conviction from the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights] if those expelled do not sue us," he wrote on Facebook.
The London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International said the seven detainees had requested asylum in Moldova, claiming they would face persecution in their homeland.
The Moldovan authorities "didn’t just violate these individuals' rights once by deporting them -- they put them on a fast-track to further human rights violations such as an unfair trial," Marie Struthers, Amnesty's director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement.
Struthers said the latest arrests in Moldova "follow the pattern of political reprisals against Turkish nationals living abroad by the increasingly repressive government" of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
She said that six Turkish nationals, also school employees, were "abducted and unlawfully returned to Turkey" in March.
Amnesty International said it had received information indicating there may be further deportations of Turkish nationals to Turkey in the coming hours.