The Minister of the Interior of Turkey, Ali Yerlikaya, has reported the detention of 56 Red Notice subjects with crimes ranging from drug dealing and money laundering to murder, counterfeiting, and assault. These subjects are allegedly wanted in 18 countries including the United States, Germany, India, Russia, and several former Soviet republics, as well as Israel and Palestine. 

As stated by The Guardian Nigeria, Yerlikaya’s office did not disclose names, noting only that the suspects were rounded up in coordinated security sweeps across 11 provinces, including Istanbul.

Mr. Yerlikaya wrote on X,  

“I congratulate our heroic police officers who carried out the operation at dawn this morning. Our nation’s prayers are with you. Our state’s breath is always on the necks of terrorists and their collaborators, organized crime organizations, poison dealers and criminal centers,”

What this means for INTERPOL and Red Notice subjects

Although the detention of 56 actual criminals would be an admiral feat, Turkey’s history of INTERPOL abuse gives cause for concern regarding the arrests. For example, in an article posted in July of 2023 by Ali Yildiz and Ben Keith, Turkey’s continued abuse is detailed. The article discusses Turkey’s abuse of INTERPOL’s tools at the hands of its current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The country’s government has reportedly manipulated INTERPOL’s tools to achieve extradition of individuals the government wishes to detain for oppressive or otherwise illegal purposes. These motivations are exemplified in the following cases among others discussed in a study requested by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights:

  • Halis Aydogan, a member of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party in Turkey, was charged in Turkey with ‘attempting to change the constitutional order’ and throwing ‘molotov cocktails’ at the Direction of Taxes in 1996. Aydogan was reportedly forced to sign all accusatory statements under torture before he escaped to France and was granted political asylum. Following a Red Notice issued at the request of Turkey, Aydogan was detained in Georgia in 2015 and subsequently released. It is believed the Red Notice remains in place.
  • Murcat Acar, a Turkish national, was transferred to Turkish authorities by Bahraini police following the issuance of a Red Notice by Turkey. Before his first appearance in a Turkish court in 2016, Acar was allegedly tortured and suffered ill-treatment. Subsequently, Acar petitioned the Turkish Constitutional Court, alleging the Turkish government violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Hamza Yalçın was arrested in 1979 on terror charges in Turkey and escaped from prison after six months, seeking asylum in Sweden. After returning to Turkey in 1990 Yalçın was again indicted on terror charges and spent three years in prison. In 1994 Yalçın left Turkey and gained Swedish citizenship. Yalçın was indicted on charges of insulting Turkish President Erdoğan in April 2017. Following a Red Notice issued by Turkey, Yalçın was detained in Barcelona in 2017. After criticism of the arrest, including from a Swedish member of the European Parliament and from The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Yalçın was released in October 2017 and returned to Sweden.

Turkey’s abuse of INTERPOL’s tools has been addressed in this blog previously as well. The next post in this series will discuss how Turkey’s history of INTERPOL abuse affects its reliability today. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.