Saturday, 27 November 2021

UK court rejects extradition request for Turkish businessman

FILE

LONDON: A British court rejected a request from Turkey to extradite a prominent businessman accused of helping to finance a 2016 coup attempt, his lawyers said.

Judge John Zani was quoted by the lawyers in a statement as saying the case against Akin Ipek, owner of the Koza-Ipek media conglomerate, was “politically motivated”.

Zani was quoted as saying that Ipek would face “a real risk of ill-treatment in the event of return”, adding that recent events in the country “give this court little comfort that the rule of law has remained undisturbed”.

Ipek was arrested in Britain in May following a request from Ankara. He faces charges of funding “terrorist” enterprises linked to US-exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, a one-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned arch-foe blamed for the failed putsch.

Gulen, based in the United States, denies involvement.

Ipek said the Turkish government had waged “a campaign of harassment and intimidation against me, my family and my employees for the past three years, for no reason other than I am perceived as an opponent of the Erdogan regime”. Ipek said he had been followed and secretly filmed in London by “those acting on behalf of the Erdogan regime”. “I have received dozens of death threats,” he said. Ipek’s lawyer Michael Drury said the case had shown “the hatred shown by the government of Turkey towards its believed opponents”.

The tycoon reportedly fled Turkey on a private jet to Britain in 2015. His conglomerate has since been targeted, with its assets seized and numerous employees charged.

Turkish prosecutors issued 65 arrest warrants in December 2015 as part of a vast probe into suspected so-called Gulenists, according to Anadolu, Turkey’s state-run news agency.

They initially requested Ipek’s extradition for “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government” and “violating the constitution”, and involvement in a terrorist organisation, Anadolu reported.

But the majority of those charges were blocked at an earlier hearing in Britain, leaving only several charges related to fundraising.

 

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