A Kosovo court on Wednesday sentenced Kosovo’s former intelligence chief to prison for secretly sending five Turkish teachers and a Turkish doctor to Turkey.
A court in Pristina found Drayton Gashi, the former director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, guilty of abuse of public office or authority and sentenced him to four years and eight months in prison.
Once he is released from custody, Gashi is not allowed to serve in any public office for four years, the court said.
Six Turks were arrested and had their Kosovo residence permits revoked in March 2018 for posing a threat to national security. Gashi had not legally established that he was a threat but was deported before the court could consider the charges.
He also did not let the country’s prime minister, president and prosecutor general know about the move in advance, as required by law.
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Upon their return to Turkey, six were arrested and imprisoned.
In Kosovo, the teachers worked with schools owned by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric whom the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of orchestrating a July 2016 military coup.
Thousands of alleged Gulen supporters have been arrested or lost their jobs in Turkey since the failed coup. Many have declared their innocence. Gulen has denied that he and his supporters were behind the attempt to topple Erdogan’s government.
The then prime minister of Kosovo, Ramish Haradinj, said that the expulsion of Turkey was a bilateral operation by the intelligence services of the two countries.
Haradinj fired both Gashi and the interior minister over the action, calling it a “violation of the decision-making hierarchy” and “an institutional precedent that should not occur in the future.”
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Human rights organizations, the US ambassador to Kosovo and students also criticized what happened to the Turkish teacher and doctor.
The deportation was criticized by rights groups, the then US ambassador and students in Kosovo.