Soini Raises Journalist Case with EU Colleagues

Foreign Minister says there's a lot of different factors at play when dealing with Turkey, but dismisses the idea that Finland is weak, over Ayla Albayrak case.

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Foreign Minister Timo Soini arriving at the General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday morning / Credit: European Council Newsroom

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini will discuss the case of a Finnish journalist, sentenced to prison in Turkey, during meetings with EU colleagues today.

Foreign Ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to talk about EU-Turkey relations, among other topics, and Soini will highlight Ayla Albayrak‘s situation as another worrying example of a crackdown by Turkish authorities on freedom of speech and the media.

Last week Albayrak, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, was sentenced in absentia to two years and one month in prison, for allegedly publishing ‘terror propaganda’ in a story she wrote about a banned Kurdish group, in 2015.

Albayrak has dual Finnish and Turkish nationality, and the Finnish government has been criticised for not taking a tougher stance against Turkey over her trial, criticism the Foreign Minister dismisses.

“Such conclusions cannot be drawn from an individual case. The judicial process must be followed through to the end. She [Albayrak] will appeal the verdict as is her right, then there is still a human rights tribunal” says Timo Soini.

Some EU countries are pressing for the suspension of Turkey’s EU membership negotiations over the political and human rights situation in the country. But Finland doesn’t think this is the right move.

“The majority are of the opinion that negotiations should not be cut off” says Soini.

Defining relations between Finland and Turkey, the Foreign Minister notes that a lot of different factors come into play, like the stability of the region, and the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO.

“International politics is complicated” says Soini.