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Romania Court RefusesTo Extradite Turkish Journalist

Turkish journalist Kamil Demirkaya (file photo)
Turkish journalist Kamil Demirkaya (file photo)

A court in Romania has rejected a request by Turkey to extradite a Turkish journalist it accuses of links to a U.S.-based cleric whom Ankara blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

The court ruled that "the conditions for an extradition have not been met" after the prosecutor said Turkey's request was based on "ideological or political reasons.”

Journalist Kamil Demirkaya, 58, has been working in Bucharest for two years, writing for the Romanian edition of Zaman, a newspaper banned by Turkey after the 2016 failed coup.

The Turkish government has blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the failed coup attempt during which 250 people were killed. Gulen has denied any involvement.

Demirkaya was detained in Romania in early December after Turkey petitioned to extradite him "for being a member of a criminal, terrorist group."

Demirkaya denies the allegations. He said he opposed the request because "justice doesn't function in Turkey."

He has applied for political asylum in Romania.

"Romania, an EU member, this way proves its respect for human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression," Zaman Romania said in a statement welcoming the court’s ruling.

Zaman's edition in Turkey was shut down by the government after the failed coup.

Turkish authorities have detained tens of thousands of people, including civil servants and journalists, in a crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters that followed the coup.

Human rights groups say that dozens of publications were shut down in the clampdown.

Critics accuse the Turkish government of using the failed coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP and Balkan Insight

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