KUALA LUMPUR • A third Turkish national has been arrested in Malaysia, his lawyer said, after two others were taken into custody this week on suspicion of funding the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.
Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik was arrested on Thursday, his lawyer Rosli Dahlan told AFP yesterday, adding that no official reasons have been provided by the authorities.
Local media reported Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar as saying that the Turk was arrested because he posed a threat to national security. No further details were given by police.
However, Turkey's state-run news agency said Mr Ismet, along with the two other Turks arrested this week, was linked to a United States-based preacher accused of organising a failed coup last year.
Mr Ismet was initially arrested last December for allegedly assaulting an immigration official, but released on bail in January.
On Tuesday, 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.
But Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on 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" ISIS activities.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has detained or sacked ten of thousands of people under a state of emergency imposed after last year's failed coup. The crackdown has focused on alleged supporters of preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the failed putsch.
Mr Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, criticised the Malaysian authorities for a lack of transparency.