Ten days after a list of extraditions appeared in the local media, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office stated that they had not received a request from Turkey for the extradition of Yunus Erdoğdu, a Turkish journalist.
Following the abduction of Turkish journalist Yusuf İnan and businessman Salih Zeki Yiğit by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) as part of operations targeting members of the faith-based Gülen movement, the Strana.ua Ukrainian news website on July 17 based on security sources published a list of 10 Turkish citizens including journalists, teachers and businessmen as being the next targets of MİT.
“I do not feel safe here any more. I have not slept for the last five days due to fear of an operation by the Turkish intelligence agency,” Erdoğdu told Turkish Minute on July 13.
Erdogdu called on Ukrainian authorities to confirm or deny the list published by the Strana.ua website.
The Prosecutor General’s Office on Friday sent a statement to a Ukrainian journalist denying the news that Erdogdu is on an extradition list.
“Relieved to learn that #Ukraine-based #Turkish #journalist Yunus Erdoğdu @erdogduy is not under threat of extradition to #Turkey,” said the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a tweet on Friday.
“I was under self imposed house arrest for 10 days. I want to say thanks to all who supported us! We hope that me and my family are in safety now in Ukraine. Thanks to all Ukrainian people,” Erdoğdu said, speaking to Turkish Minute on Friday.
Erdogdu also noted that he has again started to receive press bulletins from the Presidential Office after a 10 day hiatus.
The statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office came days after an international campaign was launched in support of Erdoğdu.
Rebecca Harms, spokeswoman for foreign affairs and expert on Turkey in the European Parliaments Greens/EFA group, on July 23 called on the Ukrainian government to stop the abduction of Turkish citizens by Turkeys MİT in Ukraine, expressing her solidarity with Kiev-based Turkish journalist Erdogdu.
“Dont leave Yunus alone. Stop Turkish secret service kidnapping Turks abroad. Respect rule of law and #HumanRights in #Ukraine and everywhere,” Harms tweeted, mentioning the Twitter accounts of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin and Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush.
The same day, the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) called on the Ukrainian government to take urgent action to protect Erdogdu.
On July 12 another journalist, Yusuf İnan, was abducted by Turkish intelligence officials in Ukraine, along with businessman Salih Zeki Yiğit due to their alleged ties to the Gülen movement.
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir expressed his great concern in a letter to Ukrainian authorities on July 19 asking them to stop the deportation process. However, İnan, editor-in-chief of online news outlet News2023.com, was eventually deported to Turkey.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 21, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)