Levent Kenez, the editor of Nordic Monitor, spoke to Journalist Post: Erdogan, who took the opportunity of Sweden and Finland’s application for membership in NATO, stipulated the extradition of journalists and writers who had taken refuge in these countries in exchange for confirmation of acceptance.
Journalist Levent Kenez is one of the names Erdogan wants from Sweden. Swedish courts had previously rejected Turkey’s extradition request for Kenez. We talked to Kenez about the extradition request and the process he is going through.
Did you ever think that in the country where you took refuge, one day you could be made a subject of negotiation? What was your reaction when you first heard this news?
When Sweden’s NATO membership came up to the agenda, we joked with other opposition journalists living in Sweden and predicted that we would definitely come up sooner or later. Frankly, since I know Turkey’s anti-democratic demands in the process of North Macedonia’s NATO membership, it was not difficult to predict this. Since there is a court decision regarding the denial of my extradition about me, frankly, I did not have any concerns. But we should also not deny the possibility that other requested persons will fall victim to a political bargain.
Newspapers close to power have targeted you. Did you feel unsafe? Have you thought about making a new trip, or moving to a more distant country? How has your family been affected by this situation?
I live with the possibility that security-related risks have always existed, as threats and harassment have also occurred before the NATO process. Being targeted in government newspapers has increased this risk. I have not lost my faith that Sweden is a rule of law, and I care that the court has decided to reject it. I didn’t think about going to another country. It is an unpleasant situation for my family, but the regime in Turkey does not surprise our family members with such threats and risks.
What will happen to you if you are extradited to Turkey?
Arrest and subsequent conviction for crimes I never committed and long-term imprisonment. Of course, the possibility of ill-treatment and torture. Reputation assassinations and harassment of family members in the ruling media to present being brought from abroad as a victory.
Many Turkish journalists have been attacked in Europe. Does this structure, called the long arms of Erdogan, pose a threat to you in the country where you live? If so, what kind of measures are you taking to protect yourself?
As in all places where Turks live extensively, there are structures funded by supporters of the ruling party and the government in Sweden. Of course, for everyone demonized by the government, this is a threat. Two journalists, Abdullah Bozkurt and Ahmet Dönmez, have been attacked in Sweden in recent years. From this point of view, we cannot say that Sweden is a very safe country.