Spain keeps Erdogan dissident in prison
Catalan politicians are “worried about Hamza Yalçin’s possible extradition to Turkey”
The Turkish-Swedish journalist Hamza Yalçin, detained in Barcelona Airport on his way to London on August 3, is still in prison. And the Spanish National Court is keeping him there for now. On Thursday, the court rejected the Turkish journalist’s appeal and decided to keep him unconditionally imprisoned.
Hamza Yalçin had an international warrant by Turkey out for his arrest and after his detention, the Spanish National Court sent him to jail provisionally. He is accused of insulting Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an article published in the Turkish magazine Odak and of having “terrorist links” to the extreme left-wing Revolutionary People's Liberation Party. The Spanish judges are now deciding whether he should be extradited to the country ruled by Erdoğan.
“Now is not the time to evaluate possible violations of human rights”
The judges rejected the Turkish journalist’s appeal emphasizing that “now is not the time to enter into considerations about possible violations of human rights or persecution because of his political activity” in Turkey, “or about the effects of the fact that Sweden has offered him international protection.”
According to the National Court, these are matters “to be treated according to extradition procedures” and the imprisonment “is within the law”, because the journalist does not have roots in Spain. In this sense, the Court rejects the less restrictive preventive tools asked for by the defense. “Without a home address in our country and after manifesting his will of opposing an extradition, we cannot rule out that, once in liberty, he will escape our jurisdiction.” This is the rationale that the National Court has used to keep him imprisoned.
"We are worried about a possible extradition of the Turkish-Swedish writer Hamza Yalçin. We want to know what the State will do!”
Catalan Republican left-wing party (ERC) on Twitter
Concerns about a possible extradition
"We are worried about a possible extradition of the Turkish-Swedish writer #HamzaYalçin. We want to know what the State will do!,” said the Catalan Republican left-wing party (ERC) on Twitter on Friday morning. In a speech in the Spanish Congress, ERC representative Joan Tardà expressed his concern by laying out facts about what has been going on in Turkey over the past year. He stressed that “156 media outlets have been closed since July 2016 and 2,500 journalists have been fired and accused of terrorism” And he continued by mentioning that “47,000 are imprisoned and 100,000 public servants have been dismissed.” “These are extraordinary numbers,” he concluded.
Barcelona, “a city committed to the defense of human rights”
The Barcelona city council also showed its concern for Hamza Yalçin’s future. On August 9, the Catalan capital’s city council sent letters to both Spain’s public prosecutor and to the National Court’s head prosecutor saying that “it should be remembered that Turkey is the country with the most jailed journalists, according to data from the European Federation of Journalists.” Moreover, the letter highlighted that Barcelona is “a city committed to the defense of human rights” and branded Yalçin’s current situation as “unfair”.
Catalan deputy ombudsman in support of Turkish journalist
A week later, on August 17, Catalan deputy ombudsman Jaume Saura also showed his support to Yalçin by visiting him at Brians I prison near Barcelona. During the visit, the Catalan ombudsman claimed that, along with the Spanish ombudsman, he is trying to keep Yalçin from being extradited. Saura said that although the journalist is going through a “kafkian” situation, he is “hopeful” that his case will be solved quickly.
Catalonia's deputy ombudsman demanded the journalist’s immediate freedom, reminding that Turkey has until September 11 to formalize the reasons for the extradition, a term that could be prolong Yalçin’s imprisonment for “weeks or months”. Saura, moreover, stressed that the journalist lives in Sweden, an EU country where he would be controlled. “The National Court and the Spanish government should bear in mind this person’s circumstances and not prolong this situation,” he said.
According to the senior member of the ombudsman's office, Yalçin was “surprised and thankful” for the support he has been receiving since his imprisonment, which includes the support from the Journalist Union of Catalonia and the Association of European Journalists in Catalonia. In addition, the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry is offering legal assistance to the detainee and the Swedish embassy in Spain is to personally visit Yalçin.