Sweden's Supreme Court refused on Monday, December 19, to extradite Turkish journalist Bülent Kenesh, editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman, who is accused in Turkey of involvement in the 2016 mutiny, at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Associated Press reports. Kenesh's extradition was one of the conditions for Sweden's accession to NATO.
The Supreme Court said in a statement that there is a risk of persecution of Kenesh based on his political views if he is returned to Turkey.
The 55-year-old journalist was granted asylum in Sweden. He welcomes the court's decision but insists he should not be considered a suspect.
“Of course, I'm glad, the decision was expected. I'm not completely happy because they say I'm suspected of crimes in Turkey. I didn't commit any crime at all. These accusations are completely fabricated by the Erdogan regime.”
He said Erdogan would continue to try to abuse the legal system.
Previously, The Insider published a story by Kenesh on how journalists in Turkey were persecuted, and his discussion of the similarities and differences between Recep Tayyip Erdogan's and Vladimir Putin's regimes. In addition, the journalist explained how he became a bargaining chip in the NATO membership negotiations between Turkey and Sweden.
Kenesh was arrested in October 2015 for insulting Erdogan and was sentenced to 21 months in prison for criticizing the president on Twitter. He was later arrested again, along with 46 other former employees of the newspaper who were caught in a wave of reprisals in 2016. Erdogan personally sought Kenesh's extradition from Sweden; at a meeting with the Swedish prime minister, he actually called the journalist's extradition a prerequisite for the ratification of the country's NATO membership.