As some 200 people assembled in London on Saturday, 20 January at the conference organised by Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT), Turkish war planes launched air strikes on Afrin, one of the three Kurdish cantons in Northern Syria. It marked the launch of a military operation with the support of the Free Syrian Army and cynically named operation ‘Olive Branch’.
Turkey’s justice system was plunged into confusion last Thursday after two criminal courts defied an order by the country’s highest court to release two jailed journalists. Last Thursday the constitutional court ruled that the pre-trial detention of Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay violated their right to freedom of expression and said they should be released from Silivri prison. But hours later two separate Istanbul penal courts said they could not implement the decision because they had not been notified of the ruling.
Hamza Yalçin (see blog dated 20 August 2017) was released on 28 September following a decision by Spain’s National High Court. “We are very pleased for our colleague, whose release we have been requesting since 3 August,” said European Federation of Journalists General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “The Spanish Government has now to clarify that there is no basis to extradite Hamza Yalçin. There was simply no reason to arrest him: Interpol did not require his arrest.”
The decision was also welcomed by Margot Wallström, Swedish minister for Foreign Affairs’ who said: “I welcome the Spanish decision not to hand out Hamza Yalcin to Turkey. Hamza Yalcin is now free to travel and can return to his family. Sweden has been working intensively with the case since the detention process became known and we have been clear that urgent and legal certainty has been necessary. All other questions are referred to the Spanish authorities”.