Bosnia rejects Turkey’s extradition request for journalist over Gülen links

Journalist Özer Özsaray
Journalist Özer Özsaray


Date posted: August 2, 2019

The Justice Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina has put an end to Turkey’s persistent efforts to have a journalist living exile extradited to Turkey on trumped-up terrorism charges, setting a strong precedent for other Turkish citizens resident in Bosnia who are being harassed and threatened with prosecution in Turkey, the Nordic Monitor news website reported.

Özer Özsaray, 47, formerly the publisher of Sungurlu Gündem, a local newspaper in the Sungurlu district of Çorum province, fled to Bosnia, a visa-free country for Turkish citizens, to escape persecution and a post-coup witch-hunt of journalists critical of the government following a 2016 coup attempt. His newspaper was raided by the police on Aug. 12, 2016, and a detention warrant was issued the same day.

The then-Sungurlu chief public prosecutor, Tunay Pulça requested Özsaray’s extradition from Bosnian authorities using unorthodox means. Pulça, the prosecutor of a small district, exchanged correspondence with the Bosnian Justice Ministry on his own through the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo after learning that Özsaray was in Bosnia.

On May 2, 2017, with a cover letter in Turkish, Pulça asked for Özsaray’s extradition to Turkey, claiming he was a “founder and chief of an armed terrorist organization,” in reference to FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the AKP government to refer to members of the faith-based Gülen movement.

According to official documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Turkish Embassy immediately conveyed Pulca’s letter and other documents in Turkish to the Bosnian Foreign Ministry, writing in English, “[The embassy] has the honor to submit herewith the original judicial documents prepared by Sungurlu Chief Prosecutor’s Office, concerning Özer Özsaray” and requesting that they be transmitted to the relevant Bosnian authorities.

When the Bosnian Justice Ministry decided to take legal action on the matter, tasking the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina with dealing with Turkey’s request, a lengthy and tense judicial process started for Özsaray.

On Nov. 22, 2018 a local court questioned the journalist and imposed a ban on leaving the country. The court also ruled there would be no deportation until the Bosnian judiciary made the final decision, given the fact that Özsaray had applied for asylum in Bosnia on May 11, 2018.

On Dec. 18, 2018 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected Turkey’s request to extradite Özsaray on the grounds that Bosnia did not recognize a terrorist organization called FETÖ, referring to a Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina document dated Nov. 6, 2018. The decision was upheld by the Bosnian Board of Appeals and announced by Justice Minister Josip Grubesa on Jan. 16, 2019. The minister noted that Turkey’s request did not meet the requirements for compliance with an agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

This allowed Özsaray to breathe a sigh of relief, but his problems were not yet over. He found out that a new petition had been submitted to the Bosnian Justice Ministry by the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo on April 4, 2019 calling for the previous ruling to be reviewed once again in line with the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters agreement.

Upon that request, the Board of Judges asked the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia in May 2019 to present a legal opinion. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office stood behind the earlier court ruling and recommended rejection of Turkey’s extradition request once again. Finally, the Board of Judges decided on May 22, 2019 that the rejection of the extradition request was final and could not be appealed.

Signed by Senadin Begtasevic, the head of the Board of Judges of Bosnia, the final decision emphasized that Turkey’s request was a violation of the legal principle and international responsibility that called for the existence of a recognized terrorist organization as sine qua non for the crime of “being a founder and chief of a terrorist organization.’’

On May 28, 2019 the justice minister announced the final verdict of the Board of Judges and the dismissal of the petition submitted by Turkish authorities.

Source: Turkish Minute , July 31, 2019


Related News

Why on earth does a Hizmet follower flee Turkey?

What follows is a translation of a recently-received one in which a family, sympathizer of the Gulen Movement, a.k.a. Hizmet, talk over their experience in leaving the country. Most of the credit go to the Samanyolu Haber for publishing the story that sheds light on personal stories in what many call Turkish brain drain, on September 6.

Human rights associations up in arms over deputy’s remarks on torture allegations

In an open letter to the Turkish Parliament, six Turkey-based human rights associations on Thursday criticized recent remarks of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mehmet Metiner, who said the government would ignore allegations of torture and mistreatment if victims were sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

America’s Public Radio International maps out Turkish gov’t persecution of Gülen movement

“Nate Schenkkan is with Freedom House and an expert on Turkey. He says Gülenists have been left jobless, with no chance of restarting their careers. “For the vast majority of the people in the Gülen movement, it’s quite clear. They had nothing to do with any of this, whether it’s the coup attempt or any other kind of violence,” he said.

Turkey Deports Journalist for Criticizing Government on Twitter

The editor in chief of Today’s Zaman, Bulent Kenes, said that Mr. Zeynalov’s deportation was an attempt to intimidate the foreign news media after Mr. Erdogan’s government had moved to suppress critical reporting in the local media. “I consider his deportation as a lesson the government tries to teach at micro level,” Mr. Kenes said. “It is intimidation of everyone doing international journalism.”

Former Daimler chairman: Turkey’s purge reminds of me beginning of Nazi era

Edzard Reuter, the son of the first mayor of West Berlin Ernst Reuter and the former chairman of the German automaker Daimler-Benz, said Turkey’s post-coup purge recalls what happened during early years of Nazi regime at his home country.

Action plan put into operation against Hizmet, indictment reveals

The Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, which was exposed by the Taraf daily in 2009, details a military plan to destroy the image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and faith-based Hizmet (Gülen) movement in the eyes of the public, play down the Ergenekon investigation.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Critics say Turkish government using US mosques to play politics, spy on foes

Being a Non-Muslim During Ramadan

Turks and Egyptians tight-knit at Turkish Olympiads Egypt Finals

As Turks flee oppression, Ottawa urged to speak out on human rights issues

Aydan Meydan from Bosna Sema School won the “Inspiring Educator Award”!

Obama to become a parallel, too?

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News