IPA warns against extradition from Sweden of Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu

The IPA warns against making publisher Ragip Zarakolu a pawn in Swedish-Finnish-Turkish NATO talks.

Ragip Zarakolu. Image: used by ICORN, the International Network of Refugee Citiesannouncing that Zarakolu had “arrived at his new haven in Sigtuna”, a Swedish town north of Stockholm, in 2014

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

See also: A finalist of the Prix Voltaire IPA 2022 is arrested in Thailand

Einarsson: “Commitment to the freedom to publish”

IIn another issue related to the International Publishers Association (IPA) Voltaire Prize, the World Publishers Association’s Freedom to Publish Officer revealed that the 2008 Voltaire Laureate, Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu, is making the subject of an extradition request by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The news is linked to the effort to provide official invitations to Sweden and Finland to join NATO.

As you may know, the negotiations involved Turkey, a member of NATO. And like Thomas Grove and Daniel Michaels write to the wall street journal write: “The NATO political agreement itself follows a tripartite agreement reached last Tuesday between Turkey, Sweden and Finland on the two countries’ membership after previous objections to their membership of the from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan”.

While the June 28 deal bolstered Swedish and Finnish bids for membership, the IPA points the finger at Ankara-based Turkish news agency Anadolu, which refers in an article from May 19 to Sweden “protecting terrorists” and cites the publisher Zarakolu among these suspected terrorists.

So it appears that Ankara at some point made an effort to implicate publisher Ragip Zarakolu, along with others, in extradition attempts under the recent deal to allow Finland and Sweden to take their first steps towards NATO membership, a process accelerated, of course, by Vladimir Putin’s continuing and unprovoked war against Ukraine.

Kristen Einarsson

In a statement released today, IPA Freedom to Publish Committee Chair Kristenn Einarsson is quoted as saying: “Ragip Zarakolu is a Turkish publisher with a long-standing commitment to freedom to publish.

“This engagement has seen him imprisoned, his publishing house threatened with closure, his exile to Sweden and continued harassment through abuse of Interpol’s red notice system.

“We fully expect the freedom of Ragip, Sweden, to be preserved and not used as a pawn in international diplomacy.”

As Publication prospects readers will recall, we covered some of the harassment Zarakolu faced – and Einarsson’s objection to it – in 2018.

Zarakolu: In Sweden since 2012

The IPA offices in Geneva today provide this information on Zarakolu, a Turkish publisher born in 1948.

“Since he founded his Belgian publishing house with his wife Ayse Nur in 1977, he has been harassed by the Turkish authorities.

“Zarakolu has refused to give up his campaign for freedom of thought, striving ‘for an attitude of respect for different thoughts and cultures to become generalized in Turkey’.

“Over the years, the charges brought by the Turkish authorities against Ragıp Zarakolu and his wife have resulted in imprisonment, confiscation of his pension, confiscation and destruction of books, and the imposition of heavy fines, putting danger to the survival of the Belgian publishing house.

“In October 2011, Zarakolu, along with his son Deniz, were arrested and charged with ‘leading an armed organization’ and ‘leading a terrorist organization’ under the Turkish Penal Code and ‘Anti-Terrorism Law’ of the country as part of a crackdown on publishers, writers and journalists considered to be affiliated with the pro-Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP).

“Zarakolu requested exile in Sweden after being released pending trial. The two judges who authorized his release were arrested and replaced by new judges who issued a warrant to take his statement.

An article by Ayça Söylemez in the journalists’ rights newsletter English Bianet on September 15, 2020, noted that the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that Zarakolu’s imprisonment violated his right to liberty and freedom of expression. Turkey was ordered to compensate Zarakolu with €5,600 in non-pecuniary damages (US$6,613).

In March 2012, the Assyrian Cultural Center in Stockholm awarded the Assyrian Cultural Prize to Ragıp Zarakolu, then in prison, for defending human and minority rights in Turkey and Europe.

This is the 125th Publishing Perspectives awards report produced in the 126 publishing days since we began our 2022 operations on January 3.

To learn more about Publishing Perspectives on Freedom of Expression, click here and to learn more about Freedom to Publish, click here. To learn more about the Voltaire Prize, click here, to learn more about international publishing and literary awards programs, and to learn more about the International Association of Publishers, click here. More information on Kristenn Einarsson’s work here.

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for CNN.com, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.