Turkish Ambassador Questioned By Feds Over Canadian's Arrest

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OTTAWA — Turkey's ambassador in Ottawa was summoned to a meeting with Canadian officials on Monday, after the Turkish government arrested a Calgary man in connection with this month's failed coup.

Turkish media say Davud Hanci has been accused of helping orchestrate the July 15 coup attempt, during which more than 200 people were killed. They allege Hanci is a close associate of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric that the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the coup.

Gulen, a former ally turned critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has denied any involvement in the coup. The Turkish government has detained thousands of people it alleges are Gulen supporters.

Citing privacy laws, Global Affairs Canada would only say that consular officials in Ankara are in contact with their Turkish counterparts and stand ready to provide assistance.

turkey coup attempt
People wave Turkish flags as they gather in Taksim Square in Istanbul, protesting against the attempted coup, July 19. (Photo: Emrah Gurel/AP)

However, a source familiar with the meeting said senior officials asked Turkish Ambassador Selcuk Unal to explain why Hanci was arrested, and raised concerns about his detention. They also relayed Canada's broader worries about the Turkish government's response to the failed coup.

In addition to arresting and firing thousands of soldiers, teachers and other public servants for allegedly supporting Gulen, the Turkish government has imposed a three-month state of emergency and considered reinstating the death penalty.

In an interview before the meeting at Global Affairs Canada, Unal said he did not know the specifics of Hanci's arrest and that it would be inappropriate to comment on a legal case.

"We think we should have more support and solidarity (from the international community) in the sense that nobody should forget that there was a coup attempt."

However, the ambassador defended his government's response to the coup, including the state of emergency, saying a strong response was needed to bring security and stability to the country. He also said calls to reinstate the death penalty are a "reflection" of public anger over the deaths caused by the coup.

"We think we should have more support and solidarity (from the international community) in the sense that nobody should forget that there was a coup attempt," he said. "Had it succeeded, there would now be a military administration. Nobody is talking about that. And would that be democratic or not?"

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