PETALING JAYA: Turgay Karaman, one of three Turkish citizens arrested in Malaysia since May 2, met with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur prior to the latter’s official trip to Turkey in February 2011, The Guardian reported.
Showing photographs of the meeting, the report stated that Karaman, who was secretary-general of the Malaysian-Turkish Dialogue Society at the time, had interviewed Najib.
The photos and details of the meeting are posted on the society’s Facebook page.
Karaman, who is the principal of Time International School in Ipoh, Perak, was arrested in KL on May 2. The police also arrested his countryman Ihsan Aslan on the same day.
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted the next day that Karaman and Aslan were arrested in connection with activities that threatened national security, under Section 130 of the Penal Code.
Karaman’s wife Ayse Gul Karaman and Aslan’s wife Ainnurul Aisyah Yunos Ali Maricar said the police never informed them of the arrests, even when reports were lodged after they initially thought the two men were abducted.
They said they only found out that their husbands were arrested from media reports of Khalid’s tweets.
On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the home minister, said Karaman and Aslan were arrested for alleged links to the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
Another Turkish man, Ismet Ozcelik, who holds a refugee card issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was detained on May 4. Ozcelik, a visiting university professor, was first arrested by Malaysiaan authorities last December after Turkish authorities said his passport was cancelled.
After almost a month in prison, Ozcelik was freed with the UNHCR stepping in to issue him accreditation.
Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, Karaman’s social media accounts promote books on topics like Turkish cuisine and Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam detested by hardline jihad promoters.
He reportedly also follows a global networking group for the LGBT community and their allies in his Linkedln account.
Websites run by Turkish dissidents are speculating that Karaman, Aslan and Ozcelik may have become victims of a global manhunt by the Turkish government.
“They fear Karaman, Aslan and Ozcelik could be forced to return to Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been cracking down on anyone suspected of even distant links to his detractors,” the report said.
It added that Turkey’s state-run news agency alleged that Karaman was linked to Fethullah Gülen, a respected preacher who is in exile in the US and is accused by Erdogan’s government of masterminding the coup attempt against him in July last year. Gülen has denied the allegation.
The report also quoted Karaman’s lawyers as mentioning that the police said there was no record of him being arrested when they filed a report of his going missing.
It was only after news of his “abduction” emerged, with his wife making an emotional video appeal for the government to help, that Khalid confirmed the arrest, it said.
Yesterday, police confirmed that the three Turkish men were held in Bukit Aman under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), and that they are being investigated under Section 130J of the Penal Code. Sosma allows police to hold detainees for 28 days without trial.
Despite requests, the family and legal counsel were told by the police that they can only meet them next Thursday.