Senior Diplomat Flies to Ankara, as Finnish Journalist Appeals ‘Terror’ Verdict

State Secretary Peter Stenlund went to Ankara today to raise the journalist's case with his Turkish counterpart.

File photo of Turkish President Erdogan / Credit; @rterdogan Instagram

A Finnish journalist who was sentenced to more than two years over an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal has appealed her sentence.

Ayla Albayrak was convicted last week in absentia, of spreading ‘terror propaganda’ about a banned Kurdish separatist group, in her 2015 article for the WSJ. Albayrak holds dual Finnish and Turkish citizenship.

Today, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Peter Stenlund raised Albayrak’s case with his Turkish counterpart Ümit Yalcin in Ankara.

“We have presented our view of what is required of Turkey and its commitments to international agreements” says Stenlund, after relaying Finland’s concerns over Albayrak’s verdict.

However, Stenlund points out that discussions at political level in Finland can only have a limited impact on Albayrak’s situation as politicians cannot intervene in the deliberations of an independent judiciary.

“We can recall how necessary it is to have an independent judiciary as part of the legal process” says Stenlund.

Finnish Embassy Monitoring Situation

According to Stenlund, Finland has also expressed concerns about how Albayrak’s case affects relations between Turkey and the EU, as well as bilateral relations between Finland and Turkey.

The Embassy of Finland in Ankara will follow Albayraki’s legal process.

Stenlund met with Adnan Basaga, Finland’s Ambassador to Turkey in Helsinki on Friday, after he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the journalist’s case.

President Niinistö also sent a letter to Turkish strongman President Recept Tayyip Erdogan, but the contents of the letter have not been made public.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) briefed fellow EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on Albayrak’s case.

According to Stenlund, today’s meeting in Ankara lasted about three hours, and the State Secretaries also discussed the situation in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations between Finland and Turkey.

Stenlund’s visit to Ankara had been scheduled in advance of Albayrak’s sentence being handed down.