Turkey probes deportation of alleged militant back to Egypt

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has launched an investigation into eight police officers over the deportation of a wanted Egyptian national back to Egypt, where he could face the death penalty.

The Istanbul governor's office said in a statement released late Tuesday that a committee would probe the deportation in January of alleged Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Abdel-Hafiz. Eight officers at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport passport control have been suspended pending the investigation, it said.

Turkish newspaper Milli Gazete said Abdel-Hafiz had arrived at Ataturk Airport on Jan. 16 from Somalia. He was detained at the airport and deported on Jan. 18 despite requesting political asylum, the paper said.

Abdel-Hafiz' case is the first known extradition of an alleged Muslim Brotherhood member from Turkey to Egypt.

Officials in Egypt say Abdel-Hafiz was sentenced to death in absentia in July 2017 following his conviction along with others for the 2015 assassination of Egypt's chief prosecutor. He is likely to face a new trial over the same accusations.

Hisham Barakat was the most senior government official killed by Islamic militants since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president whose one-year rule proved divisive.

Ties between Egypt and Turkey have been tense since Morsi's ouster. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly criticized the Egyptian government and has called for Morsi's release from detention.

Egypt accuses Turkey of becoming a safe haven for Muslim Brotherhood members who fled Egypt.

The group is banned in Egypt, but many members have been welcomed in Turkey, where they have run satellite television and radio stations.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.