Danish MPs urge suspension of Turkey's EU accession bid

Danish politicians continue to demand explanation for Turkey's release of suspect in attempted shooting of right-wing Danish writer Lars Hedegaard

Danish MPs urge suspension of Turkey's EU accession bid

World Bulletin/News Desk

Danish politicians have called for the suspension of Turkey's EU accession bid as questions continue to be asked over the release of a suspect wanted in connection with an assassination attempt on Danish right-wing writer Lars Hedegaard.

The comments came after Denmark's Foreign Affairs Committee met Thursday for the second time in Copenhagen to discuss the release in Turkey of 27-year-old Basil Hassan, a Danish citizen of Lebanese origin wanted in connection with the attempted shooting of newspaper columnist and Islam critic Hedegaard in Copenhagen in February 2013.

Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said after the meeting: "We discussed the legal system in Turkey and expressed our hesitations and doubts on Turkey's EU membership."

Officials said Lidegaard will meet Mehmet Donmez, Turkey's ambassador in Copenhagen, on Friday to express Denmark's dissatisfaction.

Mette Gjerskov, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said: "Danish soldiers serving in NATO in Turkey should be withdrawn immediately and European Union relations with Turkey should be suspended."

According to Danish police, Hassan fled Denmark on the day of the attempted shooting and spent time in Syria before being arrested in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport while trying to enter Turkey using a fake passport in April. 

Expression of anger

He was later released and there has been speculation he was handed over to the Islamic ISIL in part-exchange for 46 Turkish hostages last month.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the Danish Peoples' Party, called on Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to raise the matter at the next EU summit in Brussels and called for Turkey's EU accession negotiations to be suspended immediately.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said in a written statement on Wednesday: "The decision to release the suspect was taken by a judicial authority during a judicial process.

He underlined it was "not a preference of the executive authorities."

Bilgic added that an extradition process had been launched following Hassan's arrest and he was subsequently put in jail.

"During this stage, the court decided to extradite the suspect. However, his lawyer appealed the order which lengthened the process, during which time Hassan was released from jail," he said in a statement, adding there were no official records showing the suspect had left the country.

Bilgic said developments would be monitored closely by the Turkish ministry and Danish authorities informed.

Hedegaard, a well-known critic of Islam, established the Danish Free Press Society with the stated aim of defending freedom of expression.

He was convicted of hate speech in 2011 after making remarks against Muslims when he said that "girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins or their fathers."

He was fined 5,000 kroner, or about $850, but was acquitted on appeal a year later.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ekim 2014, 23:55