The messenger logo

‘I was a political prisoner’, Cabuk says after release

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 20
(TBILISI) - The Court of Appeals of Georgia has released Turkish national Mustafa Emre Cabuk, accused of terrorism, from pre-extradition detention.

Cabuk, who has been living in Georgia since 2002 and was engaged in education activities, would be anyway released from the detention in five days, as on February 23 his pre-extradition term expires.

The court’s verdict, which was applauded by the civil sector, the opposition and representatives of diplomatic corps attending the trial, does not mean that Cabuk will not be extradited to Turkey, as the trials on his case will continue.

"I am a teacher and I love the field of education. For 15 years I have been working in Georgia. I am always against terrorism, dispute, violence, etc. I have thousands of pupils in Georgia and our projects, our work have always been positively assessed, including by state officials. I can neither legally nor illegally be a member or a supporter of any terrorist group.

“I can boldly tell you that I was a political prisoner,” Cabuk told the media after the court announced its verdict.

Cabuk was detained on May 24, 2017, after the official visit of Turkish Prime Minister and members of Cabinet to Georgia.

He is charged with having links to Fethullah Gulen, former imam and a political figure now living in the United States, who is accused of orchestrating the military coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July, 2016.

Cabuk dismisses any links with terrorists and says that sharing Gulen’s views is not a crime.

Cabuk served as a quality manager of Demirel private college in Tbilisi, which closed shortly after the detention for not meeting necessary educational requirements.

The Ministry of Refugee of Georgia and the Tbilisi Court refused granting refugee status to Cabuk, which would allow him to avoid extradition to Turkey.

The Refugee Ministry officials claim that they have “guarantees” Cabuk will be well-treated in the Turkish prison in case of extradition.

The Georgian NGOs and the opposition do not believe this and demand the refugee status for Cabuk.