A Turkish journalist suspected of having links to Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric accused by Turkey of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, was briefly detained in Romania on Wednesday, authorities said.
Bucharest prosecutor Viviana Ciuca told The Associated Press that Kamil Demirkaya was detained based on an extradition request from Turkey for “being a member of criminal, terrorist group.”
The Zaman Romania newspaper said their employee was arrested “on the order” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Demirkaya was later released pending trial and will appear in court on Thursday.
Zaman’s edition in Turkey was shut down by the government after the failed coup, in which Gülen denies any involvement.
Zaman, critical of Erdoğan, now has editions in Romania and Bulgaria. Zaman Romania said Demirkaya has lived in Romania for two years with his wife and son, “writing about the abuses of power in Ankara.”
Cristian Preda, an independent Romanian lawmaker in the European Parliament, called on the justice minister to halt the extradition process, saying Romania had “international commitments not to extradite citizens to countries where human rights are endangered.”
“Turkey is one such country,” Preda said in a statement, adding that if the government extradites Demirkaya “it [will be] disqualified all over the European Union.”
The case is delicate for Romania, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on. Jan. 1.
The ruling Social Democrats have moved to pass a contentious judicial overhaul that critics say will erode democracy and the rule of law.