It has just emerged that a Sierra Leonean national was last week arrested in the Turkish capital, Ankara after he had gone to renew his residency permit. He is accused of being a member or follower of the group the Turkish government alleges was behind the attempted coup of July this year. An accusation he vehemently denies.
David Junusa, who has been legally resident in Turkey for nearly 20 years, is still in detention. He was an English Language lecturer at the Turgut Ozal University until it was shut down in the wake of the recent military coup attempt.
The university was part of the many institutions set up by the Gulen Movement whose leader, Fethullah Gulen, was accused by the Turkish president of being the mastermind of the failed attempt.
“I do not know about politics, I do not know about the JEMAT organisation and I have never been part of anything like that” Junusa told Politico from inside his police cell. JEMAT is the organisation that runs educational instututions set up by the Gulen Movement.
He said he had an appointment on the 18 October to extend his residency permit. “Upon arrival, I was arrested and sent to the prison cell. I was told it was a direct order given by the president, to arrest and deport all foreigners working for those universities that were closed down by the government, and mine is one of them” he said.
He said his bank account had been frozen and all his assets seized. Junusa, who is married to a Turkish wife, said he wanted to return home if he was able to sell his BMW 320 convertible car and collect his $11,500 collateral which he says foreigners have to pay before they can register a vehicle in the country. The car’s licence plate alone, he says, costs nearly $10,000 – excluding its value.
He however lamented that his car had been confiscated and the authorities had refused to give him back his collateral. Through Politico, he called on his home government to intervene to get him freed and his assets unfrozen and his money and car given back to him so he could return to Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone does not have a resident ambassador in the Eurasian nation. So Politico contacted the embassy in Iran. However Ambassador Alimamy Kamara said his mission was no longer in charge of Turkey as that had been moved to the purview of the Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ambassador Siray Timbo who is based in Dubai has not yet presented his credentials in Ankara hence cannot work there. However the says he has been in constant with the Honorary Consul who is based in Istanbul. He has duly notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Freetown.