Romania denies Turkey’s extradition request for a journalist

A Romanian court on Friday rejected Turkey’s request to extradite a Turkish journalist over terrorism charges after prosecutors said the case was political, the Washington Post reported.

Turkey links journalist Kamil Demirkaya to Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based cleric whom Turkey blames for orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

Demirkaya was detained in Romania last week after Turkey petitioned to extradite him “for being a member of a terrorist group.” Demirkaya, on the other hand, denied any involvement to terrorist organisations.

“The extradition (request) is based on ideological and political reasons, which contravene the rules of the extradition convention,” the Washington Post quoted the Romanian prosecutors as saying.

According to the Romanian law, when a prosecutor says there is no case, it is automatically dropped, meaning the ruling is final.

Demirkaya said he opposed the extradition request because “justice does not function in Turkey.” He has applied for political asylum in Romania, according to the Washington Post.

“Bucharest court rejected the extradition request on the grounds of being a member of a social group is not a crime,” Demirkaya said on Twitter.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the extradition, the Zaman Romania newspaper, where Demirkaya works, said. Turkish authorities shut down Zaman’s edition in the country after the failed coup.

Zaman, a harsh Erdoğan critic, now has editions in Romania and Bulgaria. Demirkaya has been living in Romania for the last two years and writes about “the abuses of power in Ankara,” according to the paper.

Last week, a British court rejected the Turkish request to extradite Akın İpek, a newspaper and television proprietor charged with membership of the Gülen movement, and said the 54-year-old businessman was unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey. İpek, however, does not deny his affiliation to the Gülen movement but denies giving it any financial support despite Turkey's accusation.