Malaysia handed over three individuals suspected of having ties to an international network that was allegedly behind an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government last July.
The suspects – school principal Turgay Karaman, businessman Ihsan Aslan, and former university vice chair Ismet Ozcelik – who were deported late on Thursday were deemed to be a threat to national security, police said on Friday.
Two of the suspects were arrested on May 2 for "activities threatening [Malaysia’s] national security" under the special security law that allows detention without trial, while the third was arrested on May 5 on the same charges.
@PDRMsia confirmed that Turkish Nationals; MTURGAY KARAMAN; IHSAN ASLAN and ISMET OZCELIK was deported back to Ankara last night.
— Khalid Abu Bakar (@KBAB51) May 12, 2017
Khalid, however, denied that his department had acted on the Turkish government's orders in arresting the Turkish nationals.
"We have our own laws to protect national security. We have the right to determine who we want to arrest and detain,” he said.
Suspects detained in Turkey
The suspects were detained in Turkey after arriving in Istanbul from Malaysia early on Friday, a police official said.
They were handed over to the Ankara Police Department’s anti-terror unit for interrogation, the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Turkey has led a crackdown on the network, dubbed by the Turkish government as the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) since quashing the military coup attempt, which left 249 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
Hundreds of FETO members who had infiltrated Turkish state institutions, including the military, the police force, the judiciary and the education system, have been arrested across Turkey.
A number of other countries have also moved to close down FETO-linked organisations, such as schools and dormitories, which generate income for the group.
But the network’s leader, Fethullah Gulen, remains at large in the US state of Pennsylvania, where he has resided since withdrawing into self-imposed exile in 1999.
The US has thus far given no indication that it is prepared to hand over Gulen, despite Turkey requesting his deportation.