Spain refuses to extradite author to Turkey
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 Oct. 13.
Reacting to Spain’s decision, the author 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.
“Interpol’s suspension of the red bulletin, ignoring its own rules, brings into question the reliability and impartiality of the organization,” it added.
Akhanlı who was jailed after the crime, was later acquitted but he had his citizenship revoked in a cabinet decision on May 14, 1998.
He was caught while trying to enter Turkey with a German passport in 2010, the ministry stated. The ministry appealed to the international police organization for his arrest after the Supreme Court of Appeals later reversed the acquittal verdict. At the end of 2014, Akhanlı was seen in Germany but Berlin returned an official extradition demand for him, the ministry also said.
Akhanlı’s arrest followed the detention of journalist Hamza Yalçın by Spanish police on a Turkish warrant on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and of having links to an unspecified “terror group.”
The joint Swedish-Turkish national was freed last month and Spain said he would not be extradited to Turkey due to his refugee status in Sweden.
Turkey ranked 155 on Reporters Without Borders’ most recent press freedom index, dropping four places from its 2016 ranking.