Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison

Two Germans are in extradition custody in Slovenia and Italy at the request of Turkish authorities. Both come from Turkey and were granted asylum in Germany for political persecution and later citizenship. Interpol should have withdrawn the request. The BKA, however, concealed the asylum status of the two.

Two months ago, the Slovenian police arrested Ismet Kilic, who lives in the German city Duisburg, on his return from holiday and imprisoned him for extradition. This was based on a request to arrest and extradite Ismet Kilic from Turkey, which was distributed as a so-called Red Notice via the police organisation Interpol.

Kilic had applied in Germany for asylum in 1997. The subsequent recognition as a politically persecuted person was based on Turkish accusations that he had founded a trade union for civil servants and was a member of a left-wing extremist organisation. His conviction before the State Security Court in Ankara was in absentia, and Interpol’s request, which now led to his arrest, relates to the prison sentence imposed at the time.

Request withdrawn too late

Kilic may not be extradited to his persecuting state because of his asylum status. This is why the Turkish request contravenes Article 3 of the Interpol Statutes, which prohibits the organisation from „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“.

But Interpol was not aware of Kilic’s asylum status, even if the General Secretariat in Lyon asked the criminal investigation departments of its 194 Member States to notify any asylum procedures of warranted people living in their country. This was due to a large number of misused search and arrest requests, which led Interpol itself to set up a commission a year ago to review some 80,000 requests.

Kilic was arrested for sloppiness on the part of the German authorities which could have been avoided. His recognition as an asylum seeker by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) was not reported until after his arrest in Slovenia. Interpol then withdrew the Turkish request on 5 September and asked all affiliated criminal investigation offices to delete it.

Kilic was not warned

Not only did the BKA have to inform Interpol about the misusive request for Kilic, the Duisburg resident also fell through the grid in his place of residence. As the only federal state government, North Rhine-Westphalia had ordered after the arrest of the writer Doğan Akhanlı in Spain two years ago an examination of all Turkish Interpol search requests. The State Criminal Investigation Office was to look through all Red Notices issued from 2013 onwards for possible political persecution. If the people concerned were granted asylum in Germany, the police would warn them against travelling abroad. But Kilic never received one of these 38 warnings, even though his Interpol request dates is from 2013.

The Interpol Review Commission had also classified itself some existing searches as misused for political persecution. The General Secretariat found 130 Red Notices to be in violation of Article 3 and also informed the BKA as one of its Member States.

This does not necessarily protect against arrest in Germany, because after its own examination the BKA converted five of these 130 cancelled requests into German arrest warrants, so the danger of being detained remains for the persons concerned in Germany. It might be possible that the other Interpol Members will act similarly and ignore withdrawn requests from Lyon.

Extradition agreement prohibits political persecution

The Slovenian authorities continue to keep Kilic in prison despite the withdrawal of the Red Notice by Interpol and have asked the Turkish public prosecutor’s office to give reasons for the extradition request. Two applications for release were rejected by the competent court in Koper because of a danger of fleeing to Germany. Eleven years ago, Kilic was granted German citizenship, which is why Slovenia treats him like an EU citizen.

Turkey requests the extradition of Kilic under the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Extradition. Similar to the EU arrest warrant, in which the member states of the European Union have agreed to facilitate extradition, the partners are committed to a speedy procedure. However, the Council of Europe agreement also prohibits instrumentalisation for political persecution. Requests must therefore be refused if the offence for which they are requested is to be regarded as a political act or if the persecution is based on the political views of the persons concerned.

Hanoverian under house arrest

The arrest of Ismet Kilic is not an isolated incident. Lastly, the German citizen Adnan Ö. was arrested at the end of last week while on holiday in Bolzano following an Interpol request. He also received asylum in Germany after his escape in the 1990s and lives in Hanover. The man is said to have German and Turkish citizenship.

Interpol also withdrew the request concerning Ö. after his arrest. He was therefore not released, but the Italian authorities have agreed to place him under house arrest. There he has to wait for the extradition request to be processed.

Both arrested are being looked after consularly by the German embassy in accordance with the usual procedure. In the case of Ismet Kilic, the embassy also sent the information from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees from former asylum proceedings to the Slovenian court. The case in Slovenia is handled by the judiciary, which is respected as independent by the German Government. But the Federal Foreign Office has ventured a little: it’s embassy has „emphasised the political significance of the case“ to the Slovenian Foreign Ministry.

Image: all rights reserved Interpol.

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.