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Georgia’s refugee minister says Turkey’s prisons of ‘European standard’ after concern over extradition

10 July 2017
Çabuk's wife Tuba Çabuk (left) and their lawyer Soso Baratashvili (middle) on 10 July press-conference. (Luka Pertaia/OC Media)

‘Gülen-linked’ school manager Mustafa Emre Çabuk will appeal in court after the being refused political asylum by Georgia’s Ministry of Refugees. Çabuk was detained in Tbilisi on after Turkey requested that the authorities extradite him. His lawyer says that the ministry’s decision was illegal and unfair, as the evidence ‘clearly shows the threats Çabuk faces’ in Turkey.

Minister says Turkey’s prisons ‘of European standards’

During a talk-show on Imedi TV on 7 July, Georgia’s Minister of Refugees Sozar Subari said that Çabuk, if extradited to Turkey, will ‘end up in a prison of European standards, where he will not be subjected to torture or ill-treatment’.

The ministry, in its response to Çabuk’s request, said that he will not face discrimination from Turkey’s justice system, and there was no evidence of ill-treatment in Turkey’s prisons anymore.

Çabuk’s lawyer Soso Baratashvili quoted in response UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, who has spoken of numerous cases of ill-treatment and torture in Turkish prisons.

In a 10 July press conference, Baratashvili also referred to the US State Department’s 2016 human rights report on Turkey. The report also quoted Melzer, who had interviewed many inmates who reported experiencing torture, allegedly in connection with Fethullah Gülen.

Çabuk is accused of ‘supporting the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO)’ by Turkey.

[For more details about Çabuk’s detention and his case, read on OC Media: Georgia refuses refugee status to detained ‘Gülen school manager’]

‘Guarantees from Turkey’

According to the minister, Georgia’s Prosecutor's Office has received ‘specific diplomatic guarantees’ regarding Çabuk’s case, claiming that the he will be placed in custody with ‘european standards’.

‘Representatives of the Georgian Consulate [in Turkey] will have an opportunity to examine his condition anytime’, Subari told Imedi TV.

Baratashvili expressed scepticism towards the promise, noting that in previous extradition requests, Turkey has also promised the same, but Georgia still granted refugee status.

The extradition procedure

The extradition procedure has been temporarily halted since the beginning of June, after the ministry started considering asylum for Çabuk and his family. Despite the ministry’s decision, the process is still on hold while Çabuk’s appeal is ongoing. Tbilisi City Court will announce its decision on 7 August.

By law, If Çabuk’s asylum request is denied, the extradition process against him will continue. The maximum duration of pre-extradition detention in Georgia is 9 months.

If Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani signs off on Çabuk’s extradition, he will be sent to Turkey soon after. For this reason, Baratashvili said that they would appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights after the second-instance court announces its decision. Meanwhile, Çabuk will remain in custody.

Çabuk’s family

Tuba Çabuk (Luka Pertaia/OC Media)

If Çabuk is extradited, his wife Tuba Çabuk and their two children will also be forced to move to Turkey, where Tuba Çabuk claims they might face further threats, as her sister’s husband has also been detained for alleged links with Gülen.

‘After my husband’s detention, several unknown social media accounts have been insulting and, more importantly, threatening our family. After Georgian society showed its support for my husband, they become more and more active’, Tuba Çabuk told OC Media.

Tuba Çabuk, who has been asking for protection from Georgia’s Security Services after receiving the threats, is still waiting for a response from the Prosecutor’s Office.