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Kosovo investigates 22 police officers over extraditions to Turkey

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PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo’s special prosecutors are investigating the role of 22 police officers in the last year’s arrest and extradition of six Turkish nationals, a move activists called human rights violation, the prosecutors said on Thursday.

The six Turks were arrested in Kosovo on Turkey’s request in March 2018 over alleged links to schools financed by the Gulen movement and a failed coup in 2016. The Gulen movement denies being involved.

“We are also interviewing more suspects in relation to this case,” Ekrem Lutfiu, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told Reuters.

Days after the six men were expelled, Kosovo’s prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, dismissed the country’s interior minister and secret service chief because he was not told the six would be deported to Turkey.

A parliament commission report concluded that the deportation was illegal and the constitution was violated 31 times during the arrests.

Kosovo’s opposition has accused President Hashim Thaci of ordering the deportations because of his close relations wih Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Thaci has denied any wrongdoing.

Ankara said the six were recruiters for a network run by the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and had helped people accused of links to his network leave Turkey during a security crackdown in which tens of thousands of people were sacked or jailed.

At its peak, the Gulen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the coup attempt, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gulen-run establishments.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci, editing by Larry King)

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