Spain Helps Turkish Government With Its Crack-Down On Reporters

Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Police in Barcelona have arrested a journalist upon request of the Turkish government, the latest move in a crackdown on reporters led by Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan.

The arrest of Hamza Yalcin, a 59-year-old editor of the Swedish magazine Odak Dergisi, is stoking fears within the growing community of exiled Turkish journalists that the Erdogan regime can now reach them.

Yalcin was arrested while vacationing in Barcelona after Spanish authorities honored an international arrest warrant issued by Turkey through Interpol.

Yalcin, who is described as a socialist, has lived in exile in Sweden since 1984.

Yalcin’s alleged terrorist activities have not been revealed, but the Turkish government in recent years has increasingly used trumped up terrorism charges against dissenters as a pretext for arrest.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom, 275 journalists are jailed in Turkey. Another 109 living outside the country — including some in the U.S. — are being sought for arrest.

Tens of thousands more non-journalists have been arrested on similar bogus terrorism charges.

An American pastor named Andrew Brunson has been in a Turkish prison since October after he was accused of aiding terrorist causes. Turkish authorities have alleged that Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for 23 years, helped terrorists because he allowed Kurds to speak during his church services. He has also been accused of being a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in exile in the U.S. Erdogan has accused Gulen of masterminding last July’s failed coup attempt. (RELATED: Trump Pressures Turkey’s President To Release Jailed American Pastor)

Jonathan Lundqvist, the head of the Swedish chapter of Reporters Without Borders, told the Associated Press that Yalcin’s arrest is cause for concern for exiled Turkish journalists.

“This is worrying that exiled journalists can be arrested,” he told the AP. “[Erdogan] can reach critical voices even if they are not in the country.”

It is not clear whether the Spanish government will extradite Yalcin. But if he is returned back to Turkey, he faces life in prison. There have also been claims that dissenters have been beaten and tortured in Turkish prisons.

One exiled journalist sought by Erdogan for arrest is Emre Uslu, a former columnist for Today’s Zaman who has lived in the U.S. since 2001.

Uslu was one of six U.S.-based journalists and academics who were secretly photographed last year. Their photos were published by Turkish news outlets closely aligned with the Turkish government. (RELATED: Who Is Spying On Turkish Journalists In The US?)

“The purpose of this so-called journalism is to intimidate us,” Uslu told The Daily Caller in an interview earlier this year.

He and the other five Turks who were identified in the Turkish press said that they believed that the Turkish government was behind the spying.

Asked if the surveillance worried him, Uslu said “of course.”

“They don’t have any mercy at all, that is what’s most scary,” he said of the Erdogan regime.

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