Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded the extradition of Turkish exiles who are classified as “suspected terrorists” in their native country as part of the agreement allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO. His list includes Ragıp Zarakolu, a Turkish publisher and human rights activist who has been in exile in Sweden since 2012. The German Publishers & Booksellers Association and Frankfurter Buchmesse condemn Erdogan’s planned exchange and call on Sweden and Finland to stand firm.
Peter Kraus vom Cleff, Managing Director of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association: “Neither Ragıp Zarakolu nor other Turkish publishers, authors or intellectuals living in exile should be handed over to the Turkish authorities in order to accelerate NATO entry. Such a trade would be irresponsible from both a legal and humanitarian perspective. The Turkish government has been cracking down on people like Zarakolu for decades. Zarakolu has been imprisoned several times for his advocacy of freedom of expression, and his books have been banned.”
Juergen Boos, President of Frankfurter Buchmesse: “Those individuals who are committed to freedom of expression like Ragıp Zarakolu make a democratic, pluralistic society possible and deserve special protection. We therefore expect Sweden and Finland not to become accomplices and to continue to stand up for the safety and freedom of their exiles.”
Ragıp Zarakolu is a founder of the Belge Publishing House, as well as a translator, human rights activist and former chairman of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee. He has published numerous books on minority and human rights and has advocated for freedom of expression in Turkey for over 30 years. In 2008, he was awarded the Freedom to Publish Prize, now the Prix Voltaire, by the International Publishers Association.