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NGOs urge Greece not to extradite Erdoğan critic: statement

Ali Yeşildağ, a former associate of Erdoğan and a member of the influential Yeşildağ family, which owns Es Medya and the Yapı Yapı construction company, claimed that he and Ali İhsan Arslan, also known as Mücahit Arslan, an MP of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2015, were key figures in a criminal organization that helped Erdoğan profit by manipulating the Antalya Airport operation tender.

A group of NGOs called on the Greek government on Tuesday to reject Ankara’s extradition request for a Turkish asylum seeker who accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of corruption, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The life of businessman Ali Yesildag is in danger” in Turkey and he risks a life sentence over charges of “participating in an armed extremist organization,” the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) and four other refugee rights agencies said in a joint statement.

The group called on the Greek justice minister “to protect the life of Ali Yesildag … in accordance with fundamental legal guarantees and international law, and to reject the Turkish state’s request.”

Last week, Greece’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the extradition of Yeşildağ — who had applied for political asylum in November after he was arrested by Greek police close to Turkey’s border.

In May 2023, Yeşildağ accused Erdoğan of corruption in a video that was broadcast during the Turkish leader’s presidential campaign.

According to Yeşildağ, Erdoğan had received a bribe over a tender for the operation of an airport in southern Turkey.

“Unfortunately, neither the obvious political dimension of the persecution of Ali Yesildag, nor the immediate danger to his fundamental rights in case of extradition have weighed on the Supreme Court’s judgement,” the NGOs said.

Since a coup attempt against Erdoğan in 2016, numerous opponents of the president have sought asylum in Greece.

After years of tension over migration, energy rights and maritime borders in the Aegean Sea, Greece and Turkey restarted high-level talks in December. Erdoğan paid his first to Athens since 2017 and signed a declaration of friendship between the two historic rivals.

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