Nov 29 2018

Turkish Foreign Ministry criticises British court blocking extradition of three Turkish nationals

Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that a British court’s decision to reject Turkey’s extradition request for three Turkish nationals was based on unsubstantiated reasoning and the decision was unacceptable and deeply disappointing.

A British court on Wednesday rejected a request from Turkey to extradite businessmen Akın İpek and two other Turkish nationals over what Turkish authorities said was their links to a coup attempt in 2016, the Financial Times reported.

The court rejected Turkey’s request on the grounds that the cases against İpek and others were politically motivated and the men were at risk of human rights violations if they were returned to Turkey. 

The judge said he had “serious reservations about the current state of the rule of law in Turkey,” but said he was not persuaded the defendants would not have a fair trial if they were returned to Turkey, the Financial Times reported.

However, the judge found that there was a "real risk" the defendants would be subjected "to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" if returned to Turkey - a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling stated that the defendants would be held in one of Turkey's maximum security "F-type" prisons, and the judge agreed with an expert witness, University of Bristol law scholar Rodney Morgan's view that there they ran the risk of suffering "serious harm" from the prison guards or their fellow inmates on account of their political views.

The Turkish government is expected to take the ruling to a higher British court, the Financial Times said. 

Turkish Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül said the decision was unacceptable. 

“The extradition request of the Turkish judiciary is in line with the international law and conventions.  The rejection of the British judiciary on the other hand is based on a political evaluation,” Gül said on Twitter. 

Fifty-four year old businessman İpek, who fled to London in 2015, is accused by the Turkish government of being a member of and providing financial support to the Gülen movement that Ankara holds responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt.

While İpek, who ran several gold mines, a media company and a luxury hotel, does not deny his affiliation to the Gülen movement, he denies giving any financial support for the group.