Thirteen Russian citizens have been detained by Turkish authorities near the border with Syria, according to a Russian diplomat.
The group included Varvara Karaulova, a 19-year-old philosophy student sought by Russian police and Interpol since she left her Moscow home on May 27, Igor Mityakov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Istanbul, said on Friday. Officials are still trying to establish the names of the other detainees, he said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is examining whether Karaulova, a student at Moscow State University, was recruited by an extremist group, according to a statement on the committee’s website on Friday.
If it turns out she has links to militants, then “such organizations are active in Russia and action must be taken,” Alexander Karabanov, the lawyer for the Karaulov family, said by phone on Friday.
At least 1,500 Russians, mostly from the North Caucasus region, are among those who have joined militants fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to Russia’s Anti-Terror Committee.
Islamic State is the “biggest threat” to Russia’s security, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in April.