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

Mother detained over Gülen links while premature baby left in intensive care

Ş.A., a former private school teacher and mother of a week-old premature infant, was taken into police custody over links to the faith-based Gülen movement while she was on her way to the hospital to feed the baby.

Islamists lost test with power, Arab and Turkish intellectuals agree

Gathering in İstanbul at a meeting organized by Turkish Review and Hira magazine, Arab and Turkish intellectuals have discussed the role of the state in Muslim societies and agreed that Islamist politicians have lost their test with power, as they were transformed by the state instead of transforming the state.

An interview at a party-state

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s witch-hunt campaign to find and eliminate people who are sympathizer of the Hizmet movement and not sympathizer of the government was reflected in interviews that were organized by the Ministry of Education last month. It seems Turkey has totally become a party-state.

Gülen’s lawyer: Targeting overseas Turkish educators breaks law

Nurullah Albayrak, the legal representative of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in a written statement on Wednesday spoke out against a front-page story in the pro-government Star daily that published the photos of 160 educators at Turkish schools overseas that are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, saying the daily is breaking the law and violating those individuals’ human rights by depicting innocent people as criminals.

12 detained for raising funds to help families of jailed Gülen sympathizers

Twelve businessmen have been detained in Kayseri province for raising humanitarian relief for families of people jailed in an ongoing crackdown on the Gülen movement. According to the Milliyet daily, police detained the “suspects” at a meeting during which they were raising funds for victimized families.

The consequences of tyranny never change

Certain groups devised an imaginary and ambiguous crime against the Hizmet movement based on claims of a so-called “parallel state.” However, this is such a vague crime that if those who blame the Hizmet movement for establishing a “parallel state” are accused of the same thing, these charges will seem well-founded, because of ambiguity of the claims.

Latest News

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

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

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

Grondahl: Turkish community strong in wake of threats from back home

In Case You Missed It

Turkey’s permanent state of crisis

President Ellen Commends Turkish School for Commitment to Pursuing Quality Education

Turkish Community Donates $40,000 To Sandy Damaged Gerritsen Library, Elementary School

All colors of Diyarbakir came together over Iftar

Turkish FM Babacan visits Turkish high school in Tajikistan

Kimse Yok Mu extends a helping hand to thousands of Guineans

Nigerian vice-ambassador demands more Turkish schools in his country

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News