Mahmut Tat arrested, jailed in Turkey upon his extradition
A Kurdish asylum seeker who had been convicted by a Turkish court in 2015 over "terror" charges, was arrested and incarcerated in Turkey upon his extradition by Sweden, Turkish state news agency AA said on Saturday.
Mahmut Tat was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of six years and 10 months for "being member of a terrorist organization," essentially over a statement and accusations by a former member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had turned informer. Tat says that he didn't have a fair trial in Turkey, that the court ruled against him solely on the basis of allegations by an informer, and that these allegations are groundless.
The extradition took place as Stockholm desperately seeks Ankara's green light for its accession to NATO and as the latter says it will consent only if Swedish authorities crackdown harder on Kurdish political activists, allegedly affiliated with the PKK, and hand them over to Turkey.
The headlines of the Turkish government media presenting Tat as a "PKK member" were echoed by many global news outlets, as MSN said, "Sweden extradites PKK member sentenced to six years in prison to Turkey," and Russia's TASS said, "Sweden extradites first convicted terrorist to Turkey under NATO membership memorandum,"
Dastan Jasim, a doctoral fellow at German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), criticized the headlines in German media NTV, FAZ and T-Online, all using the term "PKK member."
"It's unbelievable what the media is calling it right now. A politically persecuted Kurdish person is labeled as a PKK member by Turkey and extradited by Sweden because he is denied political asylum and the Turkish label is quoted? Nauseating."
American journalist Lindsey Snell, who herself faced "terror" charges in Turkey in 2016 over her reporting in Northern Syria, said:
"Sweden extradited a Kurdish man wanted by Turkey. Mahmut Tat was sentenced more than 6 years in prison. Turkey says he's a terrorist, but Tat's actual 'crime' was protesting the Erdogan regime. Absolutely repugnant. Shame on Sweden."