Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Malaysia arrests Turk over alleged Islamic State ties

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

A third Turkish national has been arrested in Malaysia, his lawyer said yesterday, after two others were taken into custody this week on suspicion of funding the Islamic State group.

Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik was arrested on Thursday, his lawyer Rosli Dahlan told reporters, adding that no official reasons were provided by authorities.

Local media quoted Royal Malaysia Police Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar as saying that the Turk was arrested because he posed a threat to national security.

No further details were given.

Ismet was initially arrested in December last year for allegedly assaulting an immigration official, but was freed on bail in January.

On Tuesday, Turkish nationals Turgay Karaman and Ihsan Aslan were arrested under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012, which allows police to detain them for 28 days, in a move that raised concerns about Malaysia acting on possible pressure from Ankara.

Turkey’s state-run news agency has said the pair were linked to a US-based preacher accused of organizing a failed coup last year.

However, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Thursday said that the country’s anti-terrorism police unit had been investigating the two men, along with a number of others, for “spreading, influencing and funding” Islamic State activities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has detained or fired tens of thousands of people under a state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup. The crackdown focuses on alleged supporters of preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the failed putsch.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson criticized local authorities over what he called a lack of transparency.

“The Malaysian government has an obligation ... to explain what is going on,” he told reporters.

Khalid denied claims that authorities were acting on Turkey’s request.

“We have our own laws to protect national security. We have the right to determine who we want to arrest and detain,” he was quoted as saying in the Malay Mail Online. “Anyone who threatens our national security is not welcomed here.”

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