Sweden asks Turkey to free jailed human rights activist

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has asked Turkey to free a Swedish citizen who was jailed in July alongside several other human rights activists if Ankara cannot clarify the accusations against him.

Sweden asks Turkey to free jailed human rights activist
Activist Ali Gharavi (left) and Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (right). Photo: Ali Gharavi. Photo: Larissa Dickey/handout via TT & Marcus Ericsson/TT

Ali Gharavi, an IT strategy consultant, was taken into custody alongside other activists including Amnesty International's Turkey director for allegedly aiding an unnamed “terror” group.

Sweden reacted by saying that its understanding was that Gharavi was in the country to participate in a peaceful seminar about freedom of the internet, and urged Turkey to clarify the grounds for its accusations.

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The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has yet to receive a concrete answer from Turkey however. In a statement on Tuesday, Wallström said that there had been continued contact with Gharavi's relatives, his lawyer and Amnesty International, and that Sweden now assumes he will be released if Turkey cannot clarify the grounds for the charges against him.

“Our consulate general in Istanbul has visited the court, and after repeated demands, was given access to Gharavi on July 24th. We have also had meetings with Turkish representatives, both in Ankara and the Turkish embassy in Stockholm,” a statement posted on Wallström’s Facebook page said.

“It is my hope that in the future Sweden and the EU will be able to work closely with a democratic and just Turkey where all citizens’ human rights are respected,” the statement concluded.

Gharavi was arrested at a workshop in Buyukada near Istanbul alongside several others on July 5th, including German human rights activist Peter Steudtner, leading to Berlin summoning Turkey's ambassador over the detention.