Turkey: Erdogan Threatens Tit-for-Tat in Extradition Row with Germany

Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has issued a blunt threat to Germany: if Germany doesn't extradite two Turkish prosecutors pronto, Turkey may refuse extraditions that Germany might want in the future.

Zekeriya OzZekeriya Oz and Celal Kara, the two prosecutors in question, launched the 2013 corruption probe which shook Erdogan's governmentto the core when, on Dec. 17, 2013, it alleged that government officials had been buying oil from Iran, despite UN sanctions.

Shortly thereafter, four ministers from Erdogan's ruling AK Party resigned: Muammer Guler (Interior), Zafer Caglayan (Economy), Erdogan Bayraktar (Environment and Urbanization), and Egemen Bagis (European Union affairs). The ministers were never prosecuted as Parliament voted to uphold their immunity.

According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Erdogan told civil society organizations in his hometown of Rize on Friday that an Interpol Red Notice should shortly be issued for Oz and Kara. “We will now see what Germany will do,” he said. “Germany cannot demand the extradition of an offender [if it does not do so in this case.]”

Oz and Kara are two of the three prosecutors for whom the Bakiroy Chief Prosecutor's office issued an arrest warrant on August 10. Prosecutors allege that Oz, Kara and their colleague Mehmet Yuzgec were in cahoots with Fetullah Gullen, a US-based political rival Erdogan accuses of trying to mount a coup.

However, a wave of raids and arrests of people accused of illegally wiretapping Erdogan's cabinet followed, and Erdogan, who was Prime Minister at the time, issued a gag orderto prevent media coverage of the graft investigation. He maintains that the probe was a plot by Gullen's followers to force him out of government.

On May 12, Turkey's Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors banned Oz, Kara and Yuzgec from the legal profession due to their involvement in the 2013 probe.

Kara and Oz left the country on August 10, shortly before the arrest warrants were issued. According to the governor of the north-eastern province of Artvin, Kemal Cirit, the two crossed into Georgia and later into Armenia – a country Turkey has had no diplomatic relations with for more than two decades.  Neither the government, nor media have revealed any information regarding the whereabouts of Yuzgec.  

Turkish media reported that Oz and Kara left Armenia for Germany recently. According to Hurriyet Daily News, Oz flew to Germany on Aug. 11.