The International and European Federations of journalists (IFJ/EFJ) and the Swedish Union of Journalists (SJ) have called on Swedish authorities to deny an extradition request from the Ankara government for a Turkish journalist resident in Stockholm.
Journalist Levent Kenez is accused of defaming a prosecutor and a judge in an article published on the Turkish-language news website TR724 on Feb. 17, 2018, following the court’s decision to hand down aggravated life sentences to six journalists and media workers on trumped-up charges of attempting to “overthrow the constitutional order.”
“Turkey’s tracking down dissidents all over Europe must cease immediately. By asking Sweden to extradite Levent Kenez, Turkey is again trying to silence critical voices abroad,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said.
“It is not the first time Turkey has asked Sweden to extradite a journalist. Sweden must defend press freedom in these cases,” Ulrika Hyllert, president of the Swedish Union of Journalists, said.
Kenez works as an editor for Nordic Monitor, a website that provides news on security, diplomacy, intelligence and military matters with a special focus on religious, ideological and ethnic extremist movements in Turkey. He also works as a columnist at TR724, a Turkish news site based in Brussels. He is the former editor-in-chief of the Meydan daily, which was shut down by the government in 2016.
The journalist fled Turkey in 2016 to escape persecution. He has been living in Sweden with his family ever since and was granted refugee status that will expire in November 2020.
On Dec. 12, 2019, the İstanbul High Criminal Court filed an extradition request for Kenez. According to Nordic Monitor, the documents for the extradition request were prepared on March 9, 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Kenez recently found out about the extradition request when he obtained a copy of the Turkish request to Sweden.