Swedish-Turkish writer held in Spain returns home to Sweden

Swedish-Turkish author and journalist Hamza Yalcin, who was arrested in Spain in early August on Turkey's orders, has returned home to Sweden after Spain decided not to extradite him to Turkey.

Swedish-Turkish writer held in Spain returns home to Sweden
Hamza Yalcin when he's just landed at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Yalcin landed on Copenhagen Airport in Denmark on Thursday evening, and spoke to media before taking the train back home to Halmstad in south-western Sweden to be reunited with his family.

“It is over. In prison it seemed like an unrealistic dream, but it's real now,” he told newswire TT.

Yalcin, 59, who has dual Swedish-Turkish citizenship, was arrested on August 3rd at Barcelona's El Prat airport after Turkey issued an international arrest warrant.

Boarding the train back home to Halmstad, Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A writer for left-wing online magazine Odak which has been critical of the government in Ankara, Turkey accuses him of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and “supporting terror groups”.

Human rights campaigners insist the detention was designed to silence political dissent in a crackdown under the state of emergency imposed in Turkey after last year's coup attempt.

The Swede has been represented by Spanish human rights lawyer Baltasar Garzón, who said that Spain's decision last week to release him means he is safe at least as long as he stays within the EU.

“I am very grateful for the solidary and interest I have felt. Otherwise I would have been extradited and the development in Spain had increased the risk and the concern,” said Yalcin.