A Turkish-British lawyer who heads a Gülen-affiliated organisation was arrested in London on Monday in response to an extradition request from Turkey, The Guardian reported.
British authorities detained U.K. citizen Özcan Keleş, chair of the London-based Dialogue Society and an admitted member of the movement led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, and brought him before a magistrate, according to the Guardian.
Turkey blames the Gülen movement, which it calls the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), for the country’s failed 2016 coup, and alleges that Keleş is a member of the group.
The extradition papers say Keleş visited Gülen in the United States and used his social media accounts to share photos and videos of Gülen, according to the Guardian. Turkish authorities say Keleş would face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of membership in the group.
The government of Turkey, which is the only country that lists the Gülen movement as a terrorist organisation, has detained some 50,000 people and dismissed more than 130,000 public servants for suspected connections to the movement. Turkish authorities have also tracked down and returned to Turkey dozens of suspected Gülen members around the world.
Keleş has denied the allegations, the Guardian said. Yet in an interview last year with Ahval, Keleş acknowledged that he was an active participant in the movement and said that its internal criticism had been a good thing. “We need to do more of that soul-searching,” he said.
Keleş, who is working on a PhD in human rights at Sussex University, gave evidence to British parliament’s foreign affairs committee in 2016 about U.K. relations with Turkey.
The Keleş request is the latest in a series against critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the United Kingdom. In 2017, Turkey’s then-prime minister Binali Yıldırım visited London and urged his counterpart Theresa May to extradite fugitive businessmen and activists in Britain whom Turkey suspected of involvement in the failed coup.
All previous cases have been thrown out on the grounds that they were politically motivated or that Turkey’s prison system breaches human rights, according to the Guardian. In April, Britain’s High Court determined that Ankara’s case against media owner Hamdi Akın İpek was politically motivated and rejected the request.