Kosovo prosecutor drops extradition case over alleged Turkey coup links

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - A Kosovo prosecutor withdrew his bid on Thursday to extradite a Turkish citizen accused by Turkey of being part of a group linked to a failed coup there in 2016, saying Ankara had not provided enough evidence to back the case.

Ugur Toksoy was arrested in October at the request of prosecutors in the Turkish region of Hatay, on charges of working for an NGO in Kosovo linked to U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in 2016. The Hatay prosecutors said Toksoy had participated in the attempted coup.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the attempted coup.

The Kosovo prosecutor told the judge in withdrawing his case that he had asked the Turkish embassy to provide more evidence but had not received any. He said he could start the case again if Turkey sends more evidence.

“Justice in Kosovo has won with this verdict because there was no evidence for extradition,” Toksoy’s lawyer Adem Vokshi said after the session was over. “If Turkey had proof about him, they would have sent it by now.”

Toksoy is one of two Kosovo-based Turks named on a Turkish wanted list of 11 people issued by the public prosecutor in Hatay province bordering Syria and seen by Reuters. The others are listed as living in Austria, Thailand, Mauritania, Romania and Lithuania.

Gulen-linked schools and foundations have been facing funding problems and closing in the Balkans and elsewhere.

Kosovo has refused to close Gulen schools on its soil, while Turkish government-supported schools are also being opened across the country.

Turkey remains one of the biggest supporters of Kosovo’s independence and its companies run the country’s sole airport, own electricity distribution and have won the tenders to build two highways worth around $2 billion.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Hugh Lawson