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A third Turkish national has been arrested in Malaysia, his lawyer said Friday (May 5), after two others were taken into custody this week on suspicion of funding the Islamic State group.
Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik was arrested Thursday (May 4), his lawyer Rosli Dahlan told AFP, adding that no official reasons were provided by authorities.
Local media reported national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar as saying the Turk was arrested because he posed a threat to national security.
No further details were given.
Ismet was initially arrested in December for allegedly assaulting an immigration official but freed on bail in January.
AdvertisementOn Tuesday, two Turkish nationals Turgay Karaman and Ihsan Aslan were arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, which allows police to detain them for 28 days, in a move that raised concerns about Malaysia acting on possible pressure from Ankara.
Turkey's state-run news agency has said the pair were linked to a US-based preacher accused of organising a failed coup last year.
But Malaysia's deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Thursday that the country's anti-terrorism police unit had been investigating the two men, along with a number of others, for "spreading, influencing and funding" IS activities.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's government has detained or sacked tens of thousands of people under a state of emergency imposed after last year's failed coup.
The crackdown focuses on alleged supporters of preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the failed putsch.
Khalid said Ozcelik had known both Karaman and Aslan, but declined to comment on media reports that the men were linked to the Islamic State militant group or that they were supporters of Gulen.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, criticised local authorities for a lack of transparency.
"The Malaysian government has an obligation... to explain what is going on," he told AFP. "(The police) need to reveal a whole lot more information about these cases before people are going to seriously believe that Ankara had nothing to do with it."
Police chief Khalid denied claims that the authorities were acting on Turkey's request.
"Why would we wait for directions from abroad? We have our own country's laws," he said. "People who threaten our security, we do not welcome them, these foreigners who come here and try to disrupt the peace."
He added: "We have our own laws to protect national security. We have the right to determine who we want to arrest and detain.
"Anyone who threatens our national security is not welcome here."