Turkish businessman extradited by Algeria over suspected Gulen connection

By extraditing the Turkish individual, Algeria seems to be reciprocating Turkey’s move last summer to extradite Algerian military fugitive Guermit Bounouira
Tuesday 24/11/2020
 A man walks next to police barriers next to Istanbul’s courthouse. (AFP)

 ANKARA--A Turkish national suspected of being connected to the network of opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen was extradited by Algeria to Turkey, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported, citing “a security source.”

The unnamed person was “nabbed as a result of joint work by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the General Directorate of Security,” the report said, adding that the Turkish deportee was the manager of a Gulen-linked company in Algeria.

Gulen, who is based in the US, has been accused by Ankara of being behind the 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since the coup attempt, tens of thousands of of people have been arrested, including many in the armed forces, police and judiciary.

By extraditing the Turkish individual, Algeria seems to be reciprocating Turkey’s move last summer to extradite Algerian military fugitive Guermit Bounouira. The latter was handed over to Algerian security officials in Turkey on July 30 after being accused of divulging military secrets.

Algeria’s president had phoned his Turkish counterpart to seek the return of the fugitive, who fled Algeria days after its powerful army chief died in December, an Algerian security source said.

US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. (REUTERS)
US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. (REUTERS)

Analysts pointed out at the time that Turkey’s surrender of Bounouira based on a formal Algerian request underscored the importance Ankara places in its relationship with Algeria, a powerful neighbour of Libya, where Turkish forces are directly involved in the ongoing conflict.

Bounouira, a top aide to the late Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, was accused of leaking a chart showing movements of army officers, including their names and codes, the source said.

The chart circulated on social media, embarrassing the army, although it was unclear who posted it.

Gaid Salah died suddenly of a heart attack on December 23.

Bounouira fled to Turkey the week after Gaid Salah died and the Algerian security source said he  subsequently leaked military secrets to activists based abroad. He is also suspected of having sold classified information for personal gain.

Despite some disagreements over Libya, Algeria and Turkey have maintained fairly good relations.

“We have worked very well with our counterparts in Turkey,” the Algerian security source said.