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Gulenist Turkish teacher kidnapped in Mongolia freed after authorities ground flight

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By Pascale Davies  & Michael Daventry  with Reuters
Banner depicting U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen
Banner depicting U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A Turkish teacher with links to the Gulenist movement was allegedly kidnapped in the Mongolian capital and taken to the city's airport.

Veysel Akcay was later released after authorities grounded an airplane, according to local media.

Akcay has lived in Mongolia for 24 years. His friends and family said on social media he was abducted in front of his apartment on Friday morning.

Groups of supporters gathered at Genghis Khan airport holding signs demanding Akcay’s release human rights activists in the country spoke out publicly, urging the government to take action against the abduction, which they believed was politically motivated.

The teacher is associated with the network of the US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, which Turkish authorities hold responsible for Turkey's aborted coup in 2016.

Ankara has branded the group as terrorists and has detained some 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the putsch, the U.N. human rights office said in March.

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

Turkey has urged Mongolia to shut down the Turkish schools for the last two years.

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

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

Video editor • Michael Daventry