Catalan journalists call for release of Swedish-Turkish colleague
A manifesto claims that Hamza Yalçin, journalist and Erdogan dissident, was detained under 'false' terrorist charges
Catalan PEN and the Association of Journalists of Catalonia presented a manifesto today demanding freedom for journalist Hamza Yalçin, who was detained by Spanish Police on August 3 under alleged terrorism charges.
The manifesto appealing for Yalçin’s immediate release denounces his arrest, stating that the charges are based on false accusations as part of a campaign to repress free speech in Turkey.
"We are worried about the Spanish state’s complicity in the repression of the free press, and the imprisonment of voices of dissidence against the Turkish regime," the manifesto states.
"Other European states have ignored Turkey's requests and have refused to cooperate with their authorities in the imprisonment and repression of political dissidence," the manifesto goes on to say.
It calls on the Spanish government to respect human rights laws and not extradite the journalist, with a reminder that he is "a European citizen who came as a political refugee in 1987, before being given full Swedish citizenship in 2006."
"For writing an article you can end up in jail. Here you can see how badly a country works"
Seda Sanlier · Hamza Yalçin's wife
An Interpol warrant was issued by Turkey for Yalçin’s arrest following an article he wrote for Odak magazine. The Turkish government alleged he was involved in terrorist plots, claiming he was guilty of "terrorist propaganda" and "insulting the Turkish president’.
He remains in custody whilst Spanish authorities decide whether to give in to Turkey’s demands and extradite him.
"It is difficult for us to assimilate this illegal procedure because it does not respect human rights," said David Aranda, Yaçin’s lawyer and also member of Alerta Solidaria. The lawyer attended the manifesto presentation alongside Yalçin’s wife, Seda Sanlier, who said: "For writing an article you can end up in jail. Here you can see how badly a country works."
After a failed coup d’ état in July 2016, Turkish president Erdogan has aimed to silence his critics. Many judges, lawyers, journalists, writers and members of human rights movements have been imprisoned under false terrorism charges, thus silencing any voices of dissidence that might speak out against the Turkish government. According to EFJ statistics, there are currently around 160 journalists behind bars in Turkey.