“It was clear that his arrest had political reasons”

It's official: Dogan Akhanli is allowed to leave for Germany. Why arbitrary arrests and absurd sentences are possible by Turkey – Turkish-born politician Lale Akgun talks about this with our site.

Interviewer: Great relief – did Spain's decision not to extradite Dogan Akhanli to Turkey come as more of a surprise or was it foreseeable?

Lale Akgun ((SPD politician of Turkish origin): I think this was predictable, because it was clear that his arrest had political reasons. Akhanli could not be proven to have done what he was accused of doing. The accusations got worse and worse: assault and rape… I think Spain also realized this and that is why they did not grant this extradition attempt. In addition, he was wanted by Interpol; however, Interpol is not allowed to intervene when it comes to political matters. That is why Turkey had him searched with other crimes.

Interviewer: Akhanli has been held in Spain since August – why did it take so long??

Akgun: That took so long, because Turkey first said that he should only be detained. Typically, the country in which a person charged with a "red notice" (note. d. Red.: call for trial and arrest) stops wanted person, detains him. When Akhanli was detained in Spain, Turkey had to supply, which is why he is wanted. In the meantime, there have already been talks with Spain – also on a political level from Germany – which made it clear that Akhanli is a political writer and has to reckon with such restrictions by Turkey for a long time.

He was also in prison in Turkey in 2010, was acquitted, and then the acquittal was overturned. All' this had to be negotiated on a formal level between Spain and Turkey. Honestly, I never doubted that he would be released, because he was innocent and acquitted!

Interviewer: Is he safe now, then, or can the long, arbitrary arm of Erdogan get him a next time?

Akgun: Well, that is of course the big question. He can't be arrested from Germany anymore, that's clear. But if Turkey continues to search for him with such terrible guidelines, and he is in a country that does not know he is a poitical thinker, then it may well happen that he will be detained again. This means that Akhanli must first find out if there is anything against him and if he is wanted by Interpol again before he goes on any vacation.

Interviewer: Topic arbitrariness – This week a sentence of 15 years was demanded for the imprisoned human rights activist Peter Steudtner and further ten imprisoned persons. How likely do you think it is that such a verdict could actually be handed down – especially with this evidence??

Akgun: This is a very difficult question. You see, first of all, according to the latest legislation, Turkey can detain Steudtner for seven years without serving an indictment. I trust such dictatorial regimes that they can organize anything. On the other hand, it may be that – when the wind shifts and Erdogan finds himself in a difficult situation – he will suddenly release people because he expects this to lead to better economic cooperation. I follow this very closely: Turkey is no longer doing well economically, even if the opposite is claimed.

That is the bad thing about the Erdogan regime: the regime is unpredictable. You can't predict what will happen. The charges are outrageous; what is happening is not in accordance with the rule of law. As long as you don't have that certainty about why someone was charged and what to expect, anything can happen. Erdogan recently said with regard to the German journalist Deniz Yucel: "As long as I am president, the man will not be released." Whoever says such a thing has long since suspended the rule of law.

The interview was conducted by Carsten Dopp.

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