NGOs Urge Greece Not to Extradite Turkish Critic of Turkish President 

February 29, 2024

ATHENS – A group of NGOs have urged Greece not to extradite a Turkish asylum seeker who accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of corruption, the move coming as Greece and Turkey are in a rapprochement that eased tensions.

“The life of businessman Ali Yesildag is in danger” in Turkey and he risks a life sentence over charges of “participating in an armed extremist organization,” the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) and four other refugee rights agencies said.

The group called on the Greek justice minister “to protect the life of Ali Yesildag … in accordance with fundamental legal guarantees and international law, and to reject the Turkish state’s request,” said Turkish Minute, citing Agence France-Presse (AFP.)


Greece’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the extradition of Yeşildağ — who had applied for political asylum in November, 2023 after he was arrested by Greek police close to Turkey’s border.

In May 2023, Yeşildağ accused Erdoğan of corruption in a video that was broadcast during the Turkish leader’s presidential campaign. According to Yeşildağ, Erdoğan had received a bribe over a tender for the operation of an airport in southern Turkey.

“Unfortunately, neither the obvious political dimension of the persecution of Ali Yesildag, nor the immediate danger to his fundamental rights in case of extradition have weighed on the Supreme Court’s judgment,” the NGOs said.

Since a failed coup attempt against Erdogan in July 2016, many of his critics have sought asylum in Greece as he purged civil society, the judiciary, military, educational system and seen journalists jailed.

It wasn’t said if the extradition was an attempt to appease Erdogan who has pulled back threats of invading Greece, sending energy research vessels off Greek islands and saying it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries in the Aegean.

Greece and Turkey restarted high-level talks in December, 2023 and Erdoğan paid his first to Athens since 2017 and signed a declaration of friendship that is non-binding but as he’s changed his stance from belligerence to diplomacy.


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