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Turkish journalist fears being used as a bargaining chip for Sweden’s entry into NATO

Bülent Kenes, an exiled Turkish journalist in Stockholmwas having dinner with his family when he heard the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan demand his extradition as a bargaining chip to approve the adhesion of Sweden to the Atlantic Alliance.

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“It was just my name. There was no list with other people. just my name”, explains this 53-year-old former editor-in-chief, on the blacklist of Ankara for his sympathies with the preacher movement Fethullah Gulen, who became Erdogan’s staunch rival.

“It was a surprise for me and a shock for my wife. She did not manage to say anything for several minutes ”, remember AFP.

Turkey demands the extradition of Kurdish activists or dissidents who are refugees in its territories as a condition for approving the entry of Finland and Sweden join NATO.

Initially, Ankara called for 33 people to be extradited. Then there were 45 and finally 73. The “terrorists”, as the Turkish government describes them, they appear on an unofficial list published by the media close to the Executive.

The Swedish authorities however insist on the independence of the judiciary, which has the last word. The decisions of justice cannot be revoked.

But for Kenes, it’s not a guarantee. “Six or seven months ago, I would have told them I wasn’t worried. But the entrance to the NATO It’s such a paradigm shift for Sweden that I’m not 100% sure anymore“, Explain.

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For Bülent Kenes, Erdogan may have quoted him “because he has known me for decades” due to his long career as a journalist. It may be the only name he had in mind when he was interviewed, he notes.

“Another explanation, more pessimistic and serious, is that he deeply hates me. That he hates me and that he was able to express it once more”bill.

For several weeks, the journalist has been waiting for the decision of the Swedish Supreme Court, which is in charge of analyzing extradition requests. The country granted him political asylum after his arrival in 2017.

Kenes continues to trust “in the rule of law and in the Swedish authorities” and believes that an expulsion would generate “a huge scandal” and it would be “illegal”.

The columnist left Turkey a few days after a failed coup attempt in 2016, which Ankara blamed on the movement of the preacher Gülen.

“I have nothing to do with terrorism, with violence, with a coup d’état,” assures AFP.

“I do journalism and that is why erdoğan and his regime began to follow me, accuse and persecute”, denounced the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Today’s Zaman.

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From pro to anti-Erdogan

Regarding the movement of gulen, “I respect what it does and I consider it a humanitarian movement (…) but I also criticized it in a 90-page text”, he emphasizes.

Kenes recalls the first two terms of erdoğan and of his party as something positive.

But in 2011, they went from being “democratic to undemocratic to build a kind of despot, a one-person government, first in Turkey and then in a larger region.” moment when he turned “very critical”.

“They considered that I betrayed their cause”, bill.

Kenes’s columns began to infuriate more and more Ankara and court cases piled up, to the point that he had to step down as editor-in-chief at the end of 2015.

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In Sweden, he works for the Stockholm Center for Freedoman association created by other exiled Turkish opponents whose names are also on the list of the Turkish government, such as Abdullah Bozkurt and Levent Kenez.

For the journalist, both Nordic countries were wrong to start direct negotiations with Turkey. He believes that they should have left the great NATO powers, like the United States, in the front line.

“It was a big mistake to go to the negotiating table with a despot to protect yourself from the aggression of another despot, Vladimir Putin,” manifest.

Source: Elcomercio

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