Top Spanish lawyer offers pro bono defence to save journalist from extradition to Turkey

By Jane Whyatt

There’s new development in the case of Turkish-Swedish journalist Hamza Yalçin. He is behind bars at Brians prison near Barcelona as the Spanish government is deciding on his future. The Turkish government demands his extradition on charges of “supporting terrorism“ and "insulting the president". Now the famous Spanish human rights lawyer, Baltasar Garzón, has offered to defend him pro bono, on behalf of FIBGAR, the human rights foundation he created. Yalçin will be represened by the law firm ILOCAD.

Lawyer Baltasar Garzón Lawyer Baltasar Garzón (photo Víctor Santa María from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Baltasar Garzón, Estela de Carlotto y Rigoberta Menchú en la UMET (12), CC BY 2.0)

Garzón was a judge of the highest Spanish court the Audienca National (he was barred in 2012 in what is said to have been a highly political trial) and a former Member of Parliament. During his long legal career he has dealt with cases involving the atrocities of the Franco regime, extortion by ETA Basque separatists, defending human rights in Latin America and bringing court cases against members of the U.S. George W. Bush administration, alleging that they ordered the illegal torture of terrorism suspects at the American Guantanamo base in Cuba.

Now he will defend Hamza Yalçin in Spain’s highest court, the Audienca National. In a statement on its website, the Foundation asserts: “FIBGAR continues to consider that this detention ’is an attack on freedom of expression and information and an arbitrary abuse of the rights of the people’, and that is why it will give all legal and institutional coverage to Hamza Yalçin.“

Already at the time of Yalçin’s arrest on 3rd August 2017, Baltasar Garzón had expressed serious concern about the Turkish government’s extradition request: It is 'inadmissible' that Spain extradites Hamza Yalçin to a country that inspires 'serious doubts about its respect for human rights' and the one that punishes those who information workers who annoy the regime of Erdogan.

Garzón stressed that Turkey suspended the European Convention on Human Rights a year ago and recalled that President Erdogan has imprisoned hundreds of civil servants, military, journalists, teachers, judges, prosecutors, professionals and citizens without any evidence of legal guarantees as the documentation.