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Tbilisi Denies Refugee Status for Arrested Turkish Citizen
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 9 Jul.'17 / 16:42

The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia refused to grant refugee status to Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of Private Demirel College in Tbilisi, and his family members, Deputy Minister Shota Rekhviashvili said at a news briefing on July 7.

Rekhviashvili said the Ministry investigated all case-related files before making the decision. He, however, noted that the justification for the decision would not be disclosed, citing the protection of Çabuk’s personal data and the principles of confidentiality.

“When assessing Emre Çabuk’s application, we analyzed the extent to which he would be subjected to political persecution in the Republic of Turkey; the 2016 developments in Turkey were also taken into consideration,” Rekhviashvili said.

The Deputy Minister also noted that the Ministry gave due consideration to the recent reports released by various international organizations, including the report on the situation in Turkey by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

“All of them state unanimously that since 2016 the situation in Turkish prisons have met relevant international standards and the facts of tortures do not take place… We had to investigate prisons and human rights situation, as well as the trust towards fair judiciary,” Rekhviashvili told reporters.

He also noted that if Emre Çabuk is extradited to Turkey, Georgian diplomats would be able to monitor the case proceedings.

Soso Baratashvili, Çabuk’s lawyer, said that he would appeal against the Ministry’s decision in Tbilisi City Court within a month.

Mustafa Emre Çabuk was detained on May 24 at the request of Turkish authorities allegedly for having links to Fethullah Gülen-associated FETÖ - an organization designated as terrorist by Turkey. Çabuk, who denies the accusations, was sent to three-month pre-extradition detention by the Tbilisi City Court on May 25.

The Gülen movement, which runs an international network of businesses and schools, was established by Fethullah Gülen, U.S.-based cleric, who the Turkish authorities accuse of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt.

The arrest of Mustafa Emre Çabuk came less than four months after the Georgian Ministry of Education closed down the Batumi Refaiddin Şahin Friendship School, operated by the Chaglar Educational Institutions, a Gülen-affiliated network in Georgia citing “significant problems with respect to student enrolment.” It also came a day after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s one-day official visit to Tbilisi.

The Amnesty International, London-based international human right organization, said on May 26 Çabuk might be “at risk of torture and other grave human rights violations” in Turkey. 

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