By Abdullah Bozkurt
Turkey’s top court has ruled that the rights of Ahmed Diini, a Dutch-Somali dual national who faces an outstanding arrest warrant on terrorism charges issued by the United States, were violated in a deportation judgement, ordering a retrial and suspending procedures for his forcible return to the Netherlands, from where he could face extradition to the US, according to documents reviewed by Nordic Monitor.
Diini, a grandson of former Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre, who governed the country between 1961 and 1991 with an iron fist, was detained at an airport in Istanbul on March 23, 2014. He and his German wife were on their way to the Netherlands from Egypt, where he had been jailed since August 13, 2013 following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Turkish authorities detained him on the grounds that he was listed as wanted over his alleged links to the al-Shabab terrorist group and was wanted on an arrest warrant issued by the US that was distributed via Interpol notices.
Turkish jihadists rushed to his help and hired a controversial lawyer to represent him, and a pro-government charity group lobbied for his release.
A day after his detention, the Bakırköy 18th Criminal Court of Peace formally arrested him pending the finalization of his extradition proceedings on the Interpol Red Notice. The pre-trial detention ruling cited the US arrest warrant on five counts ranging from conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization to attempted possession of firearms.
His extradition trial was heard by the Bakırköy 11th High Criminal Court. The Turkish prosecutor made a case against his extradition and claimed that he would face torture if he was extradited to the United States. At the conclusion of the proceedings on May 23, 2014 the panel of judges agreed with the prosecutor and ruled to refuse his extradition on the grounds that he might face torture for his political views if he were extradited. He was released.
During the trial Diini claimed that his ordeal started when he refused to work for the British MI5 secret service in 2008 when he lived in Birmingham between 2006 and 2011. He went to Germany to get married in 2011 but was unable to return to the UK because the office of the home secretary issued an exclusion order against him on charges of involvement in Islamist extremism. He and his wife then settled in Egypt because he said the living costs were cheaper and he wanted to complete his language studies.
He was arrested by Egyptian authorities and jailed for seven months in Cairo’s Torah Prison, where he claimed he was tortured and beaten. He also alleged that a British agent interviewed him on February 17, 2014 while he was in prison in another attempt to convince him to work for British intelligence.
When he was freed, he said the Dutch ambassador and a consular officer contacted him to take him back to the Netherlands, where he had lived since the age of three but was told there was no direct flight that day and offered him a connecting flight via Istanbul. All this was part of a plot to get him picked up in Turkey for extradition to the US, he argued, because there was a direct flight to the Netherlands that day according to research he later conducted. He got on a flight to Istanbul leaving at 21.24 hours and was forced to enter Turkey although he was supposed to be connecting to another flight bound for Amsterdam.
Although he was released by the court that rejected his extradition, Diini was placed under administrative observation and processed for deportation because he posed a risk to the public order. He said he was interviewed by US agents at the Dutch Consulate, where he was summoned for processing of his passport while he was under monitoring. When he boarded a flight on June 8, 2014, Diini refused to cooperate with authorities and tore up his boarding pass and travel papers and had to be removed from the plane for reasons of safety.
On August 7, 2014 the Istanbul 4th Criminal Court of Peace ruled to lift the administrative detention measures, but he was not released until a second court, the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of Peace, ruled for his release. He defended himself against the deportation order, saying the Netherlands had in the past extradited Dutch nationals to the United States and expressed concern that he would be ill treated if he were to be turned over to US authorities. The Istanbul 1st Administrative Court ruled on October 21, 2014 that the administrative decision to deport him was in line with the law and rejected Diini’s challenge.
Refusing to abandon his legal fight, Diini filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court on December 15, 2014 alleging that his fundamental rights had been violated. The court reviewed his case on April 3, 2019 and unanimously ruled that his rights were violated. The court ordered a retrial at the administrative court for the deportation order and also ruled that he would not be deported while the process was underway. According to Turkish law, in exceptional cases such as a risk to national security or the public order, a deportation can take place while the case is still pending. The court ruled that this option could not be exercised by Turkish authorities until the retrial had concluded. The government was also ordered to pay damages to Diini in the amount of 10,000 Turkish lira.
Although the Constitutional Court sent the application to the Justice Ministry for an opinion and a possible challenge to the complaint, the Justice Ministry did not submit any motion against the allegations raised by Diini in the time allowed by the court.
While Diini was in Turkey, his friend Anas Abdalla back in the UK was found guilty of preparing to join Islamic State fighters in Syria in October 2016. He first came to the attention of the British police when he was stopped while carrying a computer belonging to Diini. He was later discovered hiding behind canisters in the back of a truck as he tried to smuggle himself out of the UK in April 2015. Like Diini, Abdalla also claimed that he was approached by MI5 about becoming an informant and was fleeing years of harassment by counterterrorism officers when he was detained.
Diini’s brother Mahamuud Diini had previously been prosecuted in the UK for seeking to travel to Syria but was acquitted. He was later detained along with Abdalla as he had also been trying to leave the country covertly.
Diini was represented in his court challenges by lawyer Burak Turan, who also represents the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), a charity that is closely linked to armed jihadist groups. The IHH’s ties to jihadists were documented in a 2014 al-Qaeda investigation in Turkey, a probe that was later hushed up by the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government. The IHH works with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and had long been flagged by Russia as an organization that smuggled arms to jihadist groups in Syria, according to intelligence documents submitted by Russia to the UN Security Council on February 10, 2016.
In a tweet posted on May 27, 2014, Turan celebrated his win in Diini’s extradition case and wrote that he had been liberated from American hands. In another tweet he claimed Diini was declared a terrorist due to falsified FBI records. Turan also called then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for help, saying that Diini was a young Muslim man who knew five languages and was clean as a whistle despite the fact that the Americans had branded him a terrorist.
The full text of the Constitutional Court ruling is posted below:2014-19506-2