Spain refuses to extradite author to Turkey

Spain said on Friday it would not extradite a German-Turkish author accused by Turkey of "terrorism", weeks after freeing a journalist wanted by Ankara.

Spain refuses to extradite author to Turkey
German-Turkish author Dogan Akhanli. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

“The government has decided against proceeding with the extradition of Dogan Akhanli as called for by Turkey,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

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.”

Akhanli, 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, Akhlani was released but instructed to remain in Spain until a decision was made on his extradition.

He says Turkey wants to arrest him for his books on the mass killings of Armenians during World War I and the rights of Turkey's Kurdish minority.

Akhlani's arrest followed the detention of journalist Hamza Yalcin by Spanish police on a Turkish warrant on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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 ranks 155 on Reporters Without Borders' latest press freedom index, below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo, after dropping four places from its 2016 ranking.


Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.