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 Erdogan of corruption.

“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 organisation,” 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 favour of the extradition of Yesildag — who had applied for political asylum in November after he was arrested by Greek police close to Turkey’s border.

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

According to Yesildag, Erdogan 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 Erdogan in 2016, numerous opponents of the president have sought asylum in Greece.

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

Source: AFP