Turkey prepares flawed documentation seeking extradition of journalist Arslan

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Journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan

The Turkish judiciary has prepared questionable documents to assure the issuance by Interpol of a Red Notice for the arrest and extradition of veteran Turkish journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan from the United States to Turkey over his alleged role in the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.

Arslan is among dozens of journalists in exile accused of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government accuse of masterminding a major corruption investigation in Turkey that became public in December 2013, implicating the inner circle of the ruling AKP government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, as well as orchestrating a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Dink was shot dead with three bullets on Jan. 19, 2007 in front of Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos’ then-main office, located on Halaskargazi Street in Şişli. Ogün Samast, a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to close to 23 years in prison in 2011.

Writing an article for online news website TR724, veteran journalist Arslan stated that “the court has applied to US authorities for my extradition from the US to Turkey by labeling the book I wrote on the killing of Hrant Dink titled ‘Bi Ermeni Var’ [There is an Armenian] and one on the murders at the Zirve Publishing House titled ‘The Peak of Ergenekon’ as terrorist activities.”

Three Protestant missionaries, German national Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher in Malatya, on April 18, 2007.

Underlining that “Judge Mesut Düzgün has also written ‘deliberate killing’ in the section of ‘crimes committed’ in his extradition request [about me],” Arslan said: “Erdoğan points out the ‘target’, the prosecutors write the indictments accordingly, and the courts take decisions in the same direction… As Doğu Perniçek said, ‘The judiciary has become the dog of politics.’ It was the same in the case of the Dink murder.”

Some excerpts from the article written by Adem Yavuz Arslan:

“To make the Gülen movement able to be accused of being a ‘terrorist organization,’ the Dink murder had to be associated with the movement. Prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü wrote an indictment in line with an ‘instruction’ he got. However, since the prosecutor exaggerated his following of the instruction, even the judges appointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] had to reject his indictment twice, saying the indictment was ‘inadequate.’ Then ‘politics’ intervened in the case, and the court bowed to it. The government also created the public opinion it wanted through the power of unlimited propaganda. Thus, a case has been built on lies.

“The 122-page indictment is a compilation of third-class conspiracy theories. In this regard, it is more like Nedim Şener’s articles than a legal text. If Nedim Şener, not the prosecutor, had written this indictment, only he could have written all this! At the moment, only 2 police officers and 3 journalists are accused in the Dink murder. There is no gendarmerie, no MİT [Turkish National Intelligence Organization], no governors of Trabzon or İstanbul, nor those who tried Hrant Dink under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (Article 301 criminalizes denigration of the Turkish nation, the Turkish state, the Turkish Parliament, the government of the Republic of Turkey and the legal institutions of the state) and those who carried him in the front page headlines of newspapers by labeling him as a ‘traitor.’ Prosecutor Kökçü has also omitted the roles of the people such as General Veli Küçük, lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz and MİT official Özel Yılmaz, who threatened Dink by inviting him to the İstanbul’s Governor’s Office. But there are journalists in the indictment drafted by prosecutor Kökçü.

“The court has now decided to move to a new phase and has carried the ‘scandal’ to the United States. The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court requested my extradition from the US to Turkey on February 12 to get me arrested. The request for extradition signed by judge Mesut Düzgün is going to be taught as a lesson in university communications and law faculties in the future. According to judge Düzgün, who began to write his extradition request by summarizing the indictment drafted by prosecutor Kökçü, the books ‘There is an Armenian’ and ‘The Peak of Ergenekon,’ which I wrote, are within the scope of ‘terrorist activity.’

“According to the request for extradition, Ercan Gün, Ekrem Dumanlı, Faruk Mercan, lawyer Halil İbrahim Koca and I met on January 30, 2007 and decided that Ercan Gün  would publish the famous images of Ogün Samast with a Turkish flag. There is no other information, no detail or evidence about who provided these images or how they were acquired.

“There is also no evidence in the text sent to the US as there is no evidence in the indictment. The only evidence is my conversation with journalist Ercan Gün on the phone. (There is a simple explanation for this crazy accusation. At the time I was news director of the Bugün daily and Ercan Gün was the security correspondent for Fox TV. Everybody knows that Ercan Gün is one of the best security correspondents in the Turkish media. My conversation with Ercan Gün to get information on the murder has been used as evidence of the murder.)

“I met neither with Ekrem Dumanlı nor with Faruk Mercan. I did not have any phone call. It’s not a crime even if I had met with them. They are both my journalist colleagues. For the first time I heard the name of lawyer Halil İbrahim Koca, who was mentioned in the indictment. Let’s put aside a face-to-face meeting, I have had no direct or indirect contact with him. I looked at the photograph of this lawyer by searching on Google when I first heard his name in the indictment. I am sure that I have not met and do not know him. I wonder how the AKP’s judiciary brought us together.

“There is an expression in the request for extradition sent to the US authorities that I was unable to interpret. The statement is as follows: The books titled ‘Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies’ and “Red Friday: Who Broke Dink’s Pen” written by journalist and author Nedim Şener about the murder of Hrant Dink showed the first traces of participation in the murder of Hrant Dink by members of the FETÖ armed terrorist organization [“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party to refer to the Gülen movement]. After the publication of these books, Adem Yavuz Arslan, as a member of FETÖ, wrote the books titled ‘There is an Armenian’ and ‘The Code of Ergenekon’ to keep away and curtail the role and participation of members of the terrorist organization FETÖ in the murder of Hrant Dink. Thus, he committed the crimes of membership in the armed terrorist organization, deliberate murder and attempting to remove the constitutional order within the scope of organizational activity.” …

“However, there is no information on ‘deliberate murder’ in the section of ‘facts’ in the request for extradition. There are no ‘material and spiritual elements of a crime.’ It is not clear where I am on the offense of ‘killing,’ what is my connection? There is no evidence to accuse me of changing the constitutional order or membership in a terrorist organization, etc. The judge could not show even a simple piece of evidence, facts, etc., about these crimes for which an aggravated life sentence is being sought for me.

“I showed this document to a specialist lawyer to interpret it. Saying that ‘it is a legally infamous text,’ the lawyer added that ‘with this decision, leave aside making a request for the extradition of a journalist from the United States, under normal conditions you cannot detain anybody in Turkey.’ Those American authorities who got this extradition request will have a closer view of how bad the situation of the judiciary is in Turkey.”

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 4, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 188 were under arrest pending trial while only 57 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on Dec. 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On Dec. 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.

(Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)

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