Belgian authorities release Kurdish journalist on bail

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Kurdish journalist and member of the European Federation of Journalists Maxime Azadi was arrested in Brussels on Tuesday at the request of the Turkish authorities. Photo: Azadi's Facebook account

ARA News

Brussels – The Belgian authorities on Saturday released Kurdish journalist Maxime Demiralp (Azadi) on bail after paying 5,000 Euros.

Azadi was arrested last week on Tuesday after a routine check by the police. He was arrested because of an Interpol arrest warrant issued by Turkey accusing him of ‘working with a terrorist organization’.

The incident raised fears that the crackdown on media in Turkey could also expand to Europe with over a hundred journalists in jail.

Maxime Azadi has been working in Brussels since 2000, and writes for the pro-Kurdish agency Firat News (ANF) which is banned in Turkey ‘for security reasons’. According to Western media the news agency is allied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Moreover, he writes for the French media organization Mediapart and is the founder of the Kurdish news website Actukurde.

Since the breakdown of the unilateral Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ceasefire in Turkey in the summer of 2015, violence has increased and the Turkish government has cracked down on Kurdish media.

The Solidarity with Maxime Azadi Committee condemned the arrest, in a statement released by ANF.

“Turkey’s Interpol appeal is in strict relation to the news stories he has covered. A journalist being arrested for his news work in a European Union country is shameful for democracy and freedoms. Maxime Demiralp’s arrest is Turkey’s extending the pressure over the press into Europe,” ANF said.

Turkey allegedly released an arrest warrant after Maxime published an article in 2013 with the identities of those who were allegedly behind the murder of  three Kurdish activists in Paris – among them a co-founder of the PKK – Sakine Cansiz.

The Belgian authorities will decide if Demiralp will be extradited to Turkey or not, although it seems highly unlikely.

European countries have criticized the crackdown on Kurdish politicians and the imprisonment of many journalists and activists, which raised anger in Turkey.

Turkey is now trying to put more pressure on Europe to also crackdown on Kurdish organizations close to the PKK. Moreover, Germany has arrested a 31-year-old Turkish citizen suspected of planning assassinations and collecting information against Kurds in Europe.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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