Journalist Turkey wants to extradite seeks asylum in Romania

December 6, 2018
Kamil Demirkaya, a Turkish journalist who was temporarily detained based on an extradition request from Turkey for "being a member of a criminal, terrorist group", talks on the phone in front of the Bucharest Court of Appeal in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2018. A Turkish journalist suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Turkey for orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, was temporarily detained Wednesday in Romania, authorities said. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Turkish journalist accused by Turkey of terrorism said Thursday he has applied for political asylum in Romania after Turkey sought his extradition.

Turkish authorities accuse Kamil Demirkaya of links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Turkey for orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

Demirkaya told the Court of Appeal he opposed the extradition request because “justice doesn’t function in Turkey,” Agerpres national news agency reported.

“There is torture and unorthodox methods which are used against detainees,” said Demirkaya, who was released pending the ruling. He denies allegations of terrorism.

The court said Thursday it would defer judgment on the case until Dec. 14.

The case is delicate for Romania, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on. Jan. 1.

President Klaus Iohannis said he was closely watching the case. The opposition Union to Save Romania party said Demirkaya shouldn’t be extradited as his life could be in danger.

The Zaman Romania newspaper says its employee was arrested “on the order” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Zaman’s edition in Turkey was shut down by the government after the failed coup, in which Gulen denies involvement.

Zaman, which is critical of Erdogan, now has editions in Romania and Bulgaria. Zaman Romania said Demirkaya has lived in Romania for two years with his wife and son, “writing about the abuses of power in Ankara.”

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