Pro-Erdoğan daily targets ex-police chief on Turkey’s extradition list from Sweden

Pro-government Sabah Daily's main heading saying: 'The brain of the plot is a boss in Sweden' referring the former police chief Murat Çetiner

A former Turkish police chief living in exile in Sweden named on a list of political dissidents whose extradition is demanded by the Turkish government has been targeted by a pro-government newspaper that revealed his home address and published secretly taken photos, Turkish Minute reported.

The Sabah daily targeted Murat Çetiner, a former police chief who was involved in investigating the Turkish-based activities of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF). Çetiner is one of the political dissidents whose extradition Turkey is demanding from the Swedish government in exchange for dropping its objection to the Nordic country’s NATO membership.

Sabah on Tuesday published secretly taken photos of Çetiner walking by a lake with his wife. The paper also revealed Çetiner’s address in addition to publishing pictures of his house and car.

Sabah said Çetiner was leading a “life of luxury” in Sweden, living in TL 9 million ($483,626) “villa” and driving a TL 3 million ($161,208) Mercedes.

It was again the daily’s news coordinator, Abdurrahman Şimşek, who is suspected of having ties to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), who followed Çetiner in Stockholm to find out his address and take pictures of him.

Şimşek also recently targeted three journalists in exile, Cevheri Güven in Germany and Abdullah Bozkurt and Bülent Keneş in Sweden, revealing their addresses and secretly taken photos on Sabah’s front page.

Bozkurt, a Swedish-based Turkish journalist and director of the Nordic Monitor website, commented on Sabah’s report in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

“Apparently … MİT is now doing the dirty bidding contract work for Iran’s intelligence in Sweden by running a surveillance on … Çetiner who was part of a team in unmasking IRGC ops in Turkey,” Bozkurt said.

Çetiner was involved in an investigation that targeted top IRGC operatives and their alleged Turkish associates and was shut down in 2014 after three years by prosecutor İrfan Fidan, who was appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a position on Turkey’s highest court last year.

Investigators, prosecutors and judges who were previously involved in the criminal probe were all sacked and later arrested on trumped-up charges as part of a crackdown on the police and judiciary that followed a graft probe that targeted Erdoğan’s cronies in late 2013.

Çetiner moved to Sweden to escape a similar fate, but Turkish intelligence has been “breathing down on his neck,” Bozkurt said, adding that the US government sanctioned key suspects named in the probe in May, including Hakkı Selçuk Şanlı, Abdulhamit Çelik, Seyyid Cemal Gündüz and IRGC official Behnam Shahriyari, “all closely linked to Hakan Fidan, Turkish Intel chief.”

NATO member Turkey is threatening to derail Sweden and Finland’s attempts to join the Western defense alliance unless they extradite dozens of people Ankara accuses of “terrorism” including Çetiner.

A non-binding deal Sweden and fellow NATO aspirant Finland signed with Turkey in June commits them to “expeditiously and thoroughly” examine Ankara’s requests for suspects linked to the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Both Swedish and Finnish government officials said they will continue to respect national and international laws regarding Turkey’s extradition requests and that the decision for extraditions will be up to independent authorities and the courts.

The seven Gülen-linked political dissidents whose extradition Turkey is seeking from Sweden, according to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency earlier this month, are writer Harun Tokak, journalists Bülent Keneş and Levent Kenez, Yılmaz Aytan, Orhan Er, Harun Ayvaz and Murat Çetiner, who all face trials in Turkey due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Some alleged PKK members are also on Turkey’s list, according to Anadolu, which said Sweden earlier rejected Turkey’s extradition requests for these people.

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