Ocalan Lawyers Barred Entry into Turkey

BONN (Reuters)–Defense lawyers for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan have been refused entry into Turkey following his capture by Turkish authorities–a spokeswoman for his German lawyers said on Wednesday.

"They weren’t even allowed to leave (Istanbul) airport. They were sent to the transit area and told to get on the next plane out," said the spokeswoman at the law firm in Bremen which represents Ocalan.

The defense lawyers–however–vowed to keep pressing authorities there for access to their client–the team’s leader said.

The three lawyers were stopped at Istanbul airport and told to get on the next plane out of the country.

The Dutch consul was also prevented from speaking to them–television reported. No reason was given.

"We will keep trying," Dutch-based lawyer Britta Boehler told reporters on her return to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

She said she was not discouraged by her team’s failure to speak with Ocalan–who was transferred to Turkey on Tuesday to face trial for his part in a 14-year separatist struggle in the country’s southeast.

"We are telling Turkey: ‘We’re on this case and we intend to stay on it.’ It is important Turkey knows that," Boehler said.

A spokeswoman for a law firm in Bremen–Germany that also represents Ocalan said a second attempt would be made to send a team to Turkey–but it was not yet clear when.

Defense lawyers have not yet been in contact with Ocalan–who was brought to Turkey on Monday night from Kenya–the spokeswoman’said.

Meanwhile–a Kenyan official said Wednesday Kenyan authorities put Abdullah Ocalan on a flight out of the country–contradicting the government’s earlier claims that it played no role in his capture and transfer to Turkey.

Principal Immigration Officer Frank Kwinga also said Kenya was holding four associates of the Kurdish guerrilla leader and investigating them for entering the country illegally.

"There were five people. Ocalan has left. There are four others. If they entered the country without following the right procedures–then it is a criminal offense. We are investigating them," Kwinga told Reuters.

Asked to comment on Turkish media reports that Turkish special forces had snatched Ocalan in Nairobi and flown him out of the country after he left the Greek embassy–Kwinga said it was Kenya which put him on the plane on Monday.

"It would be wrong for them (the Turks) to claim credit for the operation," he said. "We sent him away and are very happy that he no longer is here. We sent the right man away. We put him on a flight."

He would not say what kind of flight it was or comment on whether Kenyan authorities knew the plane was bound for Turkey.

However–Turkish television Wednesday aired film of Ocalan handcuffed and bound to an aircraft seat with masked Turkish special forces men next to him asking him questions. In the film’s closing sequence–a blindfolded and handcuffed Ocalan was shown being led off a plane in Istanbul.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Bonaya Godana on Tuesday denied any Kenyan role in Ocalan’s transfer to Turkey–and said he believed Greek officials had put him on a plane out of the country.

He also said Kenya had demanded only that Ocalan be flown out of Kenya after discovering he was being sheltered at the Greek ambassador’s residence in Nairobi.

But senior Greek sources told Reuters a convoy of official Kenyan cars had picked Ocalan up from the Greek ambassador’s residence on Monday.

"A dozen cars were sent on Monday to the ambassador’s residence to pick him up," said one Greek source.

The sources said Greek officials believed Ocalan was being taken to the Netherlands by the Kenyans.

Godana also accused the Greek ambassador–George Costorlas–of receiving Ocalan and four followers when they flew into Kenya on a private plane on February 2. He said Costorlas failed to clear the group with Kenyan authorities and provided false names when asked who they were.

That account was backed up by Kwinga–who showed Reuters a copy of a request from the Greek embassy seeking special diplomatic clearance for the plane.

A handwritten note on the form said the request had been overtaken by events–showing the plane had already landed when the request was received–Kwinga said.

The Greek request carried five names as passengers on the Falcon 900 plane–three of Greek nationality–a Swede and a German. Kwinga said Ocalan–50–may have traveled as Aristos Aristeidou–holder of Cypriot passport number C110226 which listed his date of birth as June 10–1949.

Kenya has written to the Greek foreign minister–demanding the immediate recall to Athens of the ambassador. Greek sources said he would leave Kenya by Wednesday evening.

Kwinga said it would not be proper to comment any further on Ocalan’s departure because of security implications.

"We did our job–which was to flush him out," he said.

In Ankara–the PKK said the shooting death of three Kurds at the Israeli consulate in Berlin on Wednesday was the result of a "dirty war" conducted by allies Turkey and Israel against the Kurds.

"The incident in Berlin today is an example and result of this alliance founded on this dirty war," Mizgin Sen–a spokeswoman for the political wing of Ocalan’s group–told the Belgium-based Kurdish Med TV channel. "We violently protest this action."

Three Kurds were gunned down outside Israel’s consulate in Berlin in the worst violence since protests swept European and world cities on Tuesday over Turkey’s capture of Ocalan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Tel Aviv that the security guards had fired in self-defense when the Kurds broke into the building. His government closed all its European diplomatic missions for the day after the shooting.

Turkey and Israel–close regional allies–signed a military cooperation deal in 1996. They have carried out joint exercises and training. Israel has also upgraded Turkish fighter jets.

"It was known that the military agreement between Israel and Turkey was to be used against the Kurdish people," Sen said.

The German-based Ozgur Politika newspaper–close to the rebels–called the capture of Ocalan in its main headline on Wednesday "the product of a CIA-Mossad plot."

The paper quoted PKK commander Nizamettin Tas as calling on Kurds to be ready to "blow themselves up in the heart of the enemy."

Ocalan is being held in a Turkish island prison in the Sea of Marmara. He is likely to face trial for treason after being captured in a "sting" operation by Turkish special forces in Kenya on Monday.

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