Spain arrests Swedish-Turkish writer at Turkey’s order on terror charges

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Hamza Yalçın

Swedish-Turkish writer Hamza Yalçın, 59, was arrested on Tuesday while holidaying in Spain, after Ankara accused him having links to terrorist groups.

According to the AP, Barcelona National Police spokesman Jose Antonio Nin said Yalçın was detained at the Barcelona airport Aug. 3 while leaving for London and is now being held pending an extradition hearing. He said Yalçın has been handed over to National Court authorities.

Jonathan Lundqvist, head of the Swedish branch of Reporters Without Borders, said the arrest was an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to show “he can reach critical voices even if they are not in the country.”

Lundqvist said Yalçın has written in the Odak Dergisi magazine — which is critical of the Turkish government and Erdoğan — since he fled to Sweden in 1984. He said Spain now has to decide whether to hand him over to Turkey, where “over 100 other journalists have been charged by the Erdogan regime for similar crimes.”

“This is worrying that exiled journalists can be arrested,” he told The Associated Press.

Elisabeth Asbrink, chairwoman of the Swedish branch of writers’ association PEN International, called for the release of Yalçın as well of another Swedish citizen, IT consultant Ali Gharavi, who was arrested July 5 while attending a seminar about freedom of the Internet in Turkey.

“It is obvious that Turkey and President Erdogan show a lack of respect for EU citizens. Sweden must of course do everything to ensure the release of these two and it is urgent,” said Asbrink.

According to the Swedish TT news website, Sweden’s foreign ministry confirmed that a Swedish national was being held in Spain and said “Our embassy is monitoring this case.”

Yalçın was arrested in Turkey in 1979 for being a member of the ultra-left Turkish Peoples Liberation Party/Front (THKP-C). He escaped from prison after serving six months and applied for asylum in Sweden in 1984. He later returned to Turkey and served three years in prison from 1990 to 1994. He then returned to Sweden again.

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