Germany’s literary community to support Turkish colleagues against Erdoğan

Turkish authors, publishers and intellectuals in exile in Europe should be protected from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threats of extradition, German Publishers and Booksellers Association and Frankfurter Buchmesse said in a call for solidarity.

Erdoğan is pushing for Sweden and Finland to extradite to Turkey persons he describes as terrorists and suspected terrorists as part of his demands from the two Nordic countries in exchange for not vetoing their bids to join NATO.

Among Erdoğan’s list of terrorists is Ragıp Zarakolu, a publisher and human rights activist who has been in exile in Sweden for 10 years. Zarakolu left Turkey after several months behind bars over terrorism charges.

“I believe we are being set up, as me and other citizens here are being investigated for membership in a terrorist organisation for attending events organised by a legal body under a legal political party,” Zarakolu said in court at the time of his arrest.

“Neither Ragıp Zarakolu nor other Turkish publishers, authors or intellectuals living in exile should be handed over to Turkish authorities in order to accelerate NATO entry. Such a trade would be irresponsible from both a legal and humanitarian perspective,” British literarary magazine the Bookseller cited the Association’s Peter Kraus vom Cleff as saying.

“Zarakolu has been imprisoned several times for his advocacy of freedom of expression, and his books have been banned,” vom Cleff said.

“Those individuals who are committed to freedom of expression like Ragıp Zarakolu make a democratic, pluralistic society possible and deserve special protection,” Frankfurter Buchmesse president Jürgen Boos said. “We therefore expect Sweden and Finland not to become accomplices and to continue to stand up for the safety and freedom of their exiles.”

There are 73 people Turkey demands extradition for from Sweden and Finland, Erdoğan said in Madrid last week. Among them are journalists and teachers, as well as persons who have already served time for crimes they have committed, the BBC reported.

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