The International Federation of Journalists has welcomed the release of Swedish Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçin following his arrest in Barcelona by Spanish Authorities by the Spanish authorities on 3 August.
Hamza was released following a decision by the Spanish High Court and weeks of intensive lobbying by the IFJ's affiliates in Spain and Sweden.
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3"> <font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">And, just one hour after Spanish IFJ affiliate FESP organised a press conference with ex-magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who had agreed to provide the legal defense of Hamza, the Spanish government confirmed its refusal of the extradition.</font></font></font>
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3"> <font face="Times New Roman" size="3"> Yalcin was arrested in Barcelona following an international warrant issued by Turkey through Interpol over alleged terrorist plots. </font></font>
The IFJ had urged the Spanish authorities not to hand Hamza Yalçin over to the Turkish authorities as the safety of the journalist and the judicial independence of a trial would not be guaranteed for him in Turkey, where around 160 journalists remain behind bars, according to IFJ/EFJ statistics.
According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, Turkey issued a detention order in April against Yalçin with the accusation of having “terrorist links” with an illegal extreme left-wing group based on two articles he published as the editor-in-chief of Odak Dergisi.
He was also accused of insulting president Erdogan in an article published in Focus, a Turkish magazine.
Responding to the Interpol warrant, Spanish authorities arrested Hamza Yalçin in Barcelona’s El Prat airport on 3 August while he on his way to London for holidays.
The IFJ/EFJ affiliates in Sweden, Svenka Journalistforbundet, as well as Spanish Federación de Sindicatos de Periodistas (FeSP) and Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España (FAPE) and Comisiones Obreras (CC. OO) had issued statements condemning the detention. FAPE´s President, Elsa González, was in touch with the Spanish authorities to deal with the case and advocate for Yalçin´s freedom and FESP representatives from the Sindicat de Periodistes de Catalunya visited him in jail and were there to welcome him out.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We join our affiliates in celebrating Hamza's release and the decision not to hand him over to the Turkish authorities”