Sun, Jul 29, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Turkish teacher abducted in Mongolia freed after authorities ground flight

Reuters, BEIJING

A Turkish teacher, who was allegedly kidnapped in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, and taken to the city’s airport, has been released after authorities temporarily grounded an airplane, according to local media and a social media posting by the man.

Veysel Akcay, who yesterday thanked Mongolians for their support, was on Friday morning abducted in front of his apartment, said friends and family, who circulated details of the abduction on social media.

Ackay, who has lived in Mongolia for 24 years, is associated with the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Turkish authorities hold responsible for a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.

Ankara has branded the group as terrorists, and sought to detain those involved as part of a wide-ranging operation this year.

Supporters of Akcay said that Turkish authorities had a hand in his abduction.

The Turkish embassy and ambassador denied any involvement, the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Groups of supporters on Friday gathered at Genghis Khan International Airport holding signs demanding Ackay’s release, and human rights activists in the country spoke out publicly, urging the government to take action against the abduction, which they said was politically motivated.

The plane was grounded by authorities and left the country without Akcay at 9:15pm.

Mongolian authorities said that they do not have specific knowledge of the abduction, and are conducting an investigation.

Mongolian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Battsetseg Batmunkh said that if the accusations proved to be true “it is an unacceptable act of violation of Mongolia’s sovereignty and independence, and Mongolia will strongly object it.”

Batmunkh made the comments during a meeting with a diplomat from the Turkish embassy on Friday.

Akcay is a general manager at the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution, which runs joint Turkish-Mongolian schools established by Gulen’s movement 25 years ago.

Turkey has urged Mongolia to shut down the Turkish schools since 2016.

Human rights activists warned that any involvement by Mongolian authorities in Ackay’s abduction would be in direct violation of constitutional laws that bar torture, forced abduction and other human rights crimes.

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