Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Billionaire Turkish dissident vows to fight on after extradition victory

Akin Ipek denies charges he is linked to the failed Turkish coup attempt in 2016

Turkey has seized assets belonging to Akin Ipek over claims he supports the banned Gulen Movement. AP
Turkey has seized assets belonging to Akin Ipek over claims he supports the banned Gulen Movement. AP

A high-profile critic of Turkey’s government has vowed to continue campaigning for the release of his jailed brother after successfully fighting off the threat of his own extradition from the UK.

Businessmen Akin Ipek, who lives in London, claimed he and his family, including his detained brother Tekin, faced death threats and intimidation from the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish government has sought to extradite Mr Ipek on charges he is a supporter and founder of terrorist groups. They say he was involved in the failed 2016 coup that Turkish authorities blame on the banned Gulen Movement. Mr Ipek denies the accusations.

On Tuesday, a London court rejected a “politically motivated” final request from Ankara for the business magnate and two co-defendants to be sent back to Turkey over fears he could be tortured and face an unfair trial.

“While this extradition battle is now thankfully over, the Turkish government continues to wage a campaign of harassment and intimidation against me, my family, and my employees,” Mr Ipek said.

He has been based in the UK since 2015 and was arrested by authorities last year when Ankara sought his extradition. The latter has seized much of his Turkey-based assets that include mining companies and media outlets that had begun to take a critical tone against Mr Erdogan.

“I will continue to fight them with everything I have, to regain control of my businesses and free my brother, Tekin, who has been in prison for more than three years on baseless grounds and with no access to justice,” he said.

Reportedly a billionaire, Mr Ipek is Chairman of Koza Ltd, a British mining company. Trustees of the parent company, Koza Altin, are trying to wrest control of Koza Ltd from Mr Ipek.

Koza Altin is part of the huge Koza-Ipek conglomerate founded by his father decades ago. Some of its media outlets were closed down in 2015 when they took a critical tone against Mr Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian approach.

“It is also to be hoped that the British Government will now bring its influence to bear on the Turkish Government to prevent abuses,” said Mr Ipek’s solicitor Michael Drury, Partner at BCL Solicitors LLP.

Updated: April 10, 2019 02:40 PM