Danish writer’s shooting suspect released in Turkey before ISIL prisoner swap
Burcu Purtul Uçar ISTANBUL
Basil Hassan, a 27-year-old Danish man of Lebanese origin, was arrested in Turkey in April for allegedly shooting Lars Hedegaard, a right-wing writer and critic of Islam, in Denmark in 2013.The shooting suspect of a Danish writer was released in Turkey more than two months before the reported prisoner swap with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Hürriyet has learned.
Basil Hassan, a 27-year-old Danish man of Lebanese origin, was arrested in Turkey in April for allegedly shooting Lars Hedegaard, a right-wing writer and a critic of Islam in Denmark in 2013. Danish media had previously reported that the suspect, who Denmark wanted to be extradited, was used as part of a prisoner exchange conducted for the release of 46 Turkish hostages held by ISIL.
According to official documents, a Danish liaison officer in Turkey informed the Turkish authorities that Hassan would be at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport to meet his parents on April 24. Turkish police then asked the opinion of the Justice Ministry regarding this arrest request. The ministry told the police that Hassan could be detained and sent to the Prosecutor’s Office for a maximum temporary arrest period of 40 days, in line with the European Convention.
After the briefing, police detained Hassan at the airport and found a fake Syrian passport on him. He was then detained and his file was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, with the prosecutor filing a lawsuit in the Bakırköy Criminal Court of First Instance on May 6. The prosecutor argued that the passport was forged in order to deceive the authorities and demanded a prison sentence of from two to six years.
At the beginning of the trial, the court sent the fake passport to an expert, who reported that it was forged so poorly that it would not have been able to deceive the authorities. Despite the prosecutor’s initial assessment, the court prosecutor concluded that the expert report cancelled out the charge, and therefore asked the judge to dismiss the case. On July 8, Hassan was acquitted.
Hassan’s extradition procedures were continuing when he was released, but his lawyer’s appeal with the Supreme Court led to a halt of the legal process. Since then, Hassan’s trace in Turkish legal system has been lost and authorities say there is no official record showing that he has left Turkey.
Some 49 Turkish hostages who were seized by ISIL in Iraq on June 11, were freed on Sept. 20. Hürriyet reported that the Syrian rebel group Liwa al-Tawhid released 50 members of ISIL in Syria as part of a swap deal that ended with the release of Turkish hostages. There were also unconfirmed reports claiming that Turkey had released some ISIL members from Turkish prisons.