In contrast to what Pakistan did, Spain refuse to extradite author to Turkey

Doğan Akhanlı

As reactions mount against Pakistan government which deported Turkish teacher Mesut Kaçmaz (43) and his family to Turkey despite of the fact that the family has been under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Spain has said it will not extradite a German-Turkish author accused by Turkey of “terrorism,” weeks after freeing a journalist wanted by Ankara.

“The government has decided against proceeding with the extradition of Doğan Akhanlı as called for by Turkey,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said on Friday.

Kaçmaz Family, who were abducted from their home at a midnight in Lahore on September 27, were reportedly deported by Pakistani government to Turkey on early Saturday just two days before their scheduled appearance before a Pakistani court on Monday.

According to information given by the friends, Mesut Kaçmaz and his wife Meral Kaçmaz were reportedly transferred to Ankara for interrogation. They were blindfolded and boarded on an unmarked flight from Islamabad for İstanbul in the morning on October 14, 2017. It was learned that teenaged daughters of Kaçmaz Couple have not been detained and reportedly staying with a relative in İstanbul.

Reacting to Spain’s decision, the author Akhanlı told German daily Kolner Stadt Anzeiger: “I’m very relieved. This is what I’ve been waiting for.” Akhanlı, 60, has lived in Germany since 1991. He was arrested in August while on holiday in southern Spain following an Interpol warrant initiated by Ankara accusing him of “terrorism,” his lawyer said.

After Berlin objected, Akhanlı was released but instructed to remain in Spain until a decision was made on his extradition.

The Turkish Interior Ministry said Akhanlı was a member of the now-disbanded outlawed People’s Liberation Party-Front of Turkey (THKP-C) and was sought for the robbery of a foreign exchange office in Istanbul’s central Tahtakale neighborhood in 1984 with two other people, during which the owner of the office was killed. A red bulletin was released for him on Oct. 21, 2013, following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals, it stated.

Akhanlı’s arrest followed the detention of Turkish-Swedish journalist Hamza Yalçın by Spanish police on a Turkish warrant on charges of insulting Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and of having links to an unspecified “terror group.” Yalçın was freed last month and Spain said he would not be extradited to Turkey due to his refugee status in Sweden.

The Turkish government’s blatant abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to persecute, harass and intimidate critics and opponents is much worse than one can imagine, research by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), an advocacy group that tracks rights violations in Turkey, has revealed.

“The dubious and false charges filed by Turkey through Interpol to hunt down legitimate critics of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have in some cases succeeded in extraditing people from abroad, subjecting returnees to torture and ill treatment in notorious Turkish prisons. In other cases, people were stranded in third countries while travelling and were forced to fight the forcible return as they remained in detention facilities,” said the SCF report.

Leading NGOs, such as Fair Trials in the UK, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders in Paris, have also urged the Interpol to weed out abuses.

More than 126,000 people have been detained over ties to the Gülen movement in Turkey and over 50,000 formally arrested so far while Erdoğan earlier called on foreign governments to punish Gülen followers in their own countries.

In May Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the UN. The move drew harsh criticism from human rights organizations.

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