10 October 2017
In compliance with an arrest warrant handled by Interpol, Hamza Yalçin, a Turkish-Swedish journalist and writer, was arrested on the 3rd August in Barcelona when he was about to board a plane to London. Following his arrest, the National High Court held him in custody without bail.
The dissident, politically-minded journalist, and a known critic of Erdogan’s regime, has been accused in Turkey of terrorism due to his monthly publications in the Turkish magazine “Odak”. Hamza Yalçin has not lived in Turkey for about 20 years.
Last Thursday 29th September, after spending 56 days imprisoned in the Brians 1 Penitentiary Centre of Barcelona (a period which exceeds the 40 days stated by the European Convention), the Council of Ministers rejected his extradition to Turkey and set him free.
The case was similar to that of his compatriot, the Turkish-German journalist Dogan Akhanli, who was arrested on the 19th August in connection to his alleged membership to a terrorist organisation. His arrest was a result of an international arrest warrant issued by Erdogan’s regime, although Mr. Akhanli was acquitted in 2011 for the same facts. In this particular case, the Spanish National High Court ordered his release at the end of last August.
Turkey is demanding the extradition of both journalists, known critics of Erdogan’s regime, so that they can be prosecuted in Turkey, despite the fact that they have both been in exile for more than 15 years.
The international search warrants, set by Interpol, are known as Interpol Red Alerts. The different way in which several countries have dealt with these Red Alerts is causing quite a controversy, showing a lack of unified interpretation and application.
The authorities in each country can evaluate the Interpol Red Alerts in their own way, and depending on which country issued them, and the severity of each case, they can then decide whether to execute them or not. The two journalists of Turkish origin had recently travelled to different Schengen countries, such as Italy and Greece, and they were not arrested by the police there; but the Spanish police did arrest them, as per the orders of the Red Alerts handled by Interpol and abiding by the Extradition Treaty between Turkey and Spain, but they had failed to take into account the circumstances in which Turkey had issued the controversial arrest warrants, that of a political campaign against dissidents.
This disparity of criteria in between the authorities of various European countries generates a situation of legal uncertainty at the heart of the European Union.
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