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'Socialist' Bookseller Acquitted in London Set to Fight Extradition to Turkey

CC0 / Pixabay / Turkey
Turkey - Sputnik International
A man acquitted of terror offenses in London last year is now facing extradition to Turkey where he is accused of belonging to a left-wing terror group called Devrimci Sol. But it is by no means certain that he will be extradited.

Twitter: "Alaettin Kalender wins court case. If the people are right you're going to win."

In December 2016 Alaettin Kalender, 51, was cleared at the Old Bailey of possessing a record likely to be of use for terrorism.

The court heard the former teacher — who admitted he was a "socialist" — had a magazine on the bookshelf of his home in Hackney, east London, by the Revolutionary People's Salvation Party-Front (DHKP-C) when it was raided by police in March 2016.

The magazine, printed in 1997, allegedly contained an article called Training Notes On Making IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

Mr. Kalender, who bought and sold books and magazines, told the court he had a harmless interest in wars and conflict but he said he read one piece in the magazine and never looked at the other contents, including the IED article.

After he was acquitted Mr. Kalender reportedly demanded the return of the magazine, which was eventually given back to him with the offending article having been torn out.

Now, six months after his acquittal, Mr. Kalender has been arrested and faces extradition back to Turkey, a country he fled several years ago.

He was arrested on Friday (June 2) at his home, and appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court later the same day. 

Mr. Kalender is thought to have been remanded in custody pending another hearing on July 10. It will be up to a district judge to decide whether the evidence is sufficient, especially in light of recent allegations about Turkey's criminal justice system.

"Considering the state of Turkey's criminal justice system, which has  seen a dramatic politicization, I'd be surprised if a British judge agrees to extradite Alaettin Kalender on the basis of the evidence  supplied by the Turkish authorities," Simon Cousins, a London-based activist, told Sputnik.

Greece refused to extradite 50 Turkish nationals to Turkey in the last decade amid fears over the fairness of the country's justice system.

In 2014 District Judge Shenagh Bayne dismissed an extradition request against a British citizen, Deniz Akgul, after accusing Turkey of "bad faith."

Turkey had failed to disclose that Akgul, a Kurd, had already been convicted in absentia of terrorist charges.

She said it was an "abuse of process" and it was thought likely to be a legal precedent which might prevent the extradition of anyone of a Kurdish background to Turkey.

The Kurdish separatist PKK is fighting a bloody war against the Turkish Army and police in south-east Turkey.

The Metropolitan Police would not comment on the case, but said Mr. Kalender is wanted on an international warrant for extradition to Turkey, where he is suspected of being a member of a terrorist organization.

A hand of a statue is seen as the Greek flag waves in Athens, Sunday, June 28, 2015. - Sputnik International
Greece Refuses to Extradite 50 Turkish Citizens Accused of Terrorism

The organization in question is believed to be Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left), a group sometimes known as Dev Sol.

In the 1980s Dev Sol was one of a number of far-left and far-right groups which carried out bombings in Turkey.

Dev Sol is a revolutionary socialist group which despises the United States and Turkey's membership of NATO.

In the past it financed its activities through armed robberies and extortion. In 1990 Dev Sol murdered two US military contracted and wounded a US air force officer in protest at the first Gulf War.

Two years later it fired rockets at the US Consulate in Istanbul and in 1996 it assassinated a wealthy Turkish businessman.

By then Dev Sol had splintered and the assassination was claimed under the name of the DHKP-C.

The organization remains an implacable enemy of Islamism and of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan although in recent years its violence has been completely eclipsed by that of Kurdish and Salafist groups.

DHKP-C's leader Dursun Karatas was reportedly killed in 2008 but in 2014 the US State Department offered rewards of up to $3 million each for three senior leaders.

Its most recent attack was in January 2015 and involved a suicide bombing on a police station.

There is no doubt Dev Sol is a violent organization, but proving Mr. Kalender's membership of it is a different matter.

Astonishingly Turkey remains listed on the Home Office's website as a "Type A" country on a par with Canada, Iceland and Switzerland, despite numerous allegations about the unfairness of the Turkish justice system.

Amnesty International reported last month that three Turkish nationals would most probably be tortured in Turkey after Malaysia agreed to extradite them for their alleged links to Fethullah Gulen's movement. Gulen is accused by President Erdogan of being behind July's coup and thousands have teachers, judges, police and army officers have been fired and arrested as a result, often on the basis of flimsy evidence.

Theresa May was criticized in January for agreeing a US$125 million arms deal with Turkey despite human rights abuses in the country.

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