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Turkey furious at axeing of Swedish coup panel

Turkey has angrily reacted to the cancellation of a panel in Sweden about the failed July coup attempt seeking to oust the government from power, calling it a "blow" to the freedom of expression.

Turkey furious at axeing of Swedish coup panel
Turkish people attempt to stop tanks in Ankara on July 16, 2016. Photo: TT
The panel “July 15th — Behind the Scene of the Bloody Coup” had been planned to take place in Stockholm on Friday.
   
The office of the Turkish prime minister, in a statement late on Friday, condemned the cancellation and said it was the result of “interference by some Swedish parliamentarians.”
   
“The cancellation of the panel planned to inform the international community on the treacherous coup attempt of July 15 against Turkey's democracy and parliamentarian system, and the prevention of Turkish
journalists from making a statement contradicts with Sweden's tradition as the country with the world's oldest piece of legislation on the freedom of media,” the statement said.
   
The panel should have taken place in a small school of a Stockholm district. Local authorities claim they cancelled the event because of security concerns.
   
“We did a risk assessment taking into account who would attend and what  could happen outside. I don't want my schools turned into a battlefield,” Bo Andersson, a Stockholm city schools official, said.
   
The Swedish foreign ministry has not commented. Turkey has blamed the failed putsch on a rogue group in the army led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, charges he denies.
   
The government has launched a relentless crackdown on alleged coup plotters, detaining or suspending tens of thousands of people from state institutions including in education.
   
The purge has alarmed European states, which have urged Turkey to act within the rule of law.
   
Furious with the cancellation of the planned event in Stockholm, Ankara said it expected “the European countries, which unfairly criticise Turkey for hindering the freedom of the press at every opportunity, to show the necessary
reaction to these attacks on the freedom of media and expression by Sweden.”

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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