European Federation of Journalists

Baltasar Garzon defending the arrested Swedish-Turkish journalist in Spain

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes the decision of Baltasar Garzón, a former member of Spain’s National High Court (Audiencia Nacional) to take a pro bono defense of the Swedish-Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçin currently detained in Barcelona and pending extradition by an Interpol order issued by Turkey. The International Baltasar Garzón Foundation (Fibgar) represents Hamza Yalçin through the ILOCAD law firm, runned by the magistrate, who considers that the detention violates the journalist’s rights.

Hamza Yalçin, 59, a journalist citizen of Sweden, is being held in custody in Spain after being arrested on 3 August at the Barcelona airport in compliance with an international detention order issued by Turkey. According to data from the European Federation of Journalists in September, there are 157 journalists and media workers in Turkey currently still in prison.

In August, following the arrest in Spain, Baltasar Garzón said in a statement that it was “inadmissible” that Spain would extradite Hamza Yalçin to a country that inspires “serious doubts regarding its respect for human rights”. Mr Garzón stressed that Turkey suspended the European Convention on Human Rights a year ago and recalled that President Erdogan has imprisoned hundreds of civil servants, military, journalists, teachers, judges, prosecutors, professionals and citizens without any evidence of criminal activity.

The Spanish authorities were asked not to give in to the demands of Turkey, to release the journalist and to grant him the necessary protection so that he would not be deported, says Fibgar statement.

“The Foundation would like to thank the International Federation of Journalists, its affiliated organizations in Spain, the Platform for the Defense of Freedom of Information and the European Federation of Journalists, its work for the release of imprisoned Turkish journalists, for the support and follow up to Hamza Yalçin and for the invaluable contribution of documentation that is performing. We wish to highlight their daily work in favor of freedom of expression and in favor of a multitude of professionals from different nationalities who are suffering imprisonment for fulfilling their duty to inform”, says Fibgar in the statement.