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TURKEY

Swedish diplomat risks jail for stone smuggling

A Swedish diplomat risks a prison sentence after he was suspected of trying to smuggle ancient relics out of Turkey while returning from a family holiday.

The man, stationed at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm, was stopped when he and his wife were returning home after a charter holiday.

The diplomat had a marble rock stowed away in his luggage.

The “10 centimetre marble stone” was an ancient relic, and the man is now suspected of having tried to smuggle it out of the country, reported national newspaper Expressen.

According to the diplomat’s wife, nobody had informed the couple that bringing these rocks home was forbidden.

“This is ludicrous. We had no idea that you couldn’t take stones home as souvenirs,” the woman told the paper.

“We don’t know now what will happen, or how long we’ll have to wait for a decision, but this is a mistake.”

The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the man is apprehended, and staff from the consulate in Istanbul has been to visit the man.

“We haven’t heard any official criminal offense yet,” said the ministry’s press secretary Catarina Axelsson to news agency TT.

However, Expressen revealed that a source had informed that the Turkish authorities take these kind of crimes “extremely seriously”.

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TURKEY

Turkish government accused of trying to silence critics with arrest of Swedish writer

Charges against a Swedish-Turkish writer who was arrested while holidaying in Spain are an attempt by the Turkish government to silence its critics, non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) claims.

Turkish government accused of trying to silence critics with arrest of Swedish writer
File photo not related to the story. Photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Hamza Yalcin was arrested on Tuesday in Barcelona following the issue of an international arrest warrant from Turkey, who accuse him of organizing terrorist acts.

Since moving to Sweden in 1984, Yalcin has written for regime-critical newspaper Odak Dergisi, who according to RSF has angered President Erdogan in Ankara.

“This is an attempt from Erdogan to extend his power outside of the country's borders. He wants to show that he can reach critical voices even if they do not exist in the country. It's an abuse of international police cooperation that risks having major consequences,” RSF Sweden president Jonathan Lundqvist said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Swedish writer wanted by Turkey arrested in Spain

The organization insists that Spanish authorities should dismiss the Turkish accusations and release the 59-year-old to travel home to Sweden.

If he is sent to Turkey then he risks being tried along with over 100 other journalists who the Turkish government has accused of similar crimes, according to RSF. Turkey is ranked 155 out of the 180 countries in the RSF's Press Freedom Index.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry (UD) has asked to meet Yalcin.

“We want to have consular access, and both our embassy in Madrid and our consulate in Barcelona are in contact with the Spanish authorities and have asked for consular access,” UD communications officer Gunnar Vrang told TT.

Yalcin is the second Swedish national to be arrested on Turkey's orders in less then a month. Sweden's Foreign Minister criticized Turkey in July after IT consultant Ali Gharavi was jailed in the country along with several human rights activists for allegedly aiding a terror group. The Swedish government understood that he was there to attend a seminar about freedom of the internet.

READ ALSO: Sweden slams Turkey for jailing activist