Judge refuses extradition request

Hamdi Akin Ipek

Hamdi Akin Ipek

A judge has dismissed as “politically motivated” an extradition request by the Turkish government for a dispossessed media proprietor to be sent for trial in Ankara.

 

Judge John Zani also refused the application on the grounds that extraditing Hamdi Akin İpek and three other Turkish nationals would put them at risk of serious mistreatment.

 

İpek, whose newspapers and TV stations have been confiscated by Turkish officials for criticising the regime of the President, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, appeared alongside the other men at Westminster magistrate’s court.

 

Delivering his ruling, Zani said he was “satisfied that this is a politically motivated prosecution”. If they were returned to Turkey, he added, there would be a real risk of breaches of Article III of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states no one should be subjected to torture, degrading treatment and punishment.

 

The case against İpek and his co-accused follows demands for the UK to send back fugitives supposedly involved with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government claims was responsible for the 2016 uprising against Erdoğan.

 

Last year, the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, met his British counterpart, Theresa May, and asked her to extradite those supposedly associated with the failed coup.

 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represented the Turkish government in the hearing, said it would appeal against the decision.

 

The ruling is the latest in a series of refusals by British courts to extradite suspects to Turkey, where thousands of journalists, lawyers and civil servants remain in prison following the failed 2016 coup.

 

Although Turkey is a fellow member of the Council of Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), there has been criticism of the UK government for formally certifying the Turkish government extradition given the country’s recent human rights record under Erdoğan.

 

Speaking after the hearing, İpek, the chairman of the Koza-İpek Group, said: “The Turkish government has waged a campaign of harassment and intimidation against me, my family and my employees for the past three years, for no reason other than I am perceived as an opponent of the Erdoğan regime.

 

“These attacks have seen the regime unlawfully seize the businesses and assets of the Koza-İpek Group, which was founded by my father and has traded with an impeccable reputation for more than 70 years.” -BBC

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