Fri May 12, 2017 8:4AM
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar

Malaysia has deported three Turkish nationals wanted by Ankara for alleged links to a US-based preacher accused of being behind last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that the men were "deported back to Ankara" on Thursday night, despite concerns from rights groups that fear Malaysia was bowing to pressure from Turkey.

Turgay Karaman and Ihsan Aslan were arrested last week under a security law, which allows detention without trial for 28 days. Two days after their arrest, Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik was also detained -- ostensibly for national security reasons.

The police chief said in a separate statement that investigations showed the two are involved in terror-linked activities and wanted by Turkey.

Turkish authorities allege last July’s coup attempt against Erdogan was masterminded by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

This file photo shows Turkish opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. (Photo by AFP)

Khalid said the men's travel documents had been canceled by Ankara and so they were regarded as illegal immigrants in Malaysia.

But rights groups have said they fear Malaysia may be responding to pressure from Turkey, which has mounted a huge crackdown on perceived opponents since the failed coup.

The UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia last week expressed serious concern about the arrests and urged Malaysia to refrain from deporting the men to Turkey.

Erdogan's administration has detained or sacked tens of thousands of people under a state of emergency imposed after the attempted power grab.

The crackdown focuses on alleged supporters of Gulen.

(Source: AFP)