World Bulletin/News Desk
The decision by a Turkish court to release a suspect in the attempted murder of Danish Islam critic Lars Hedegaard last April is a judicial, not executive, decision, according to Turkey's Foreign Ministry.
"Basil Hassan, a 27-year old Danish citizen of Lebanese origin was arrested on April 16 at Istanbul Ataturk Airport as a suspect in the attempted shooting of Danish author and historian Lars Hedegaard in February 2013," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said in a written statement Wednesday.
Bilgic added that the extradition process was launched following the arrest and Hassan was subsequently put in jail.
"During this stage, the court decided to extradite the suspect. However, his lawyer appealed the order which lengthened the process, during which time Hassan was released from jail," the statement said, adding that there were no official records showing that the suspect left the country.
"The decision to release the suspect was taken by a judicial authority during a judicial process," Bilgic continued, underlining that it was "not a preference of the executive authorities."
Bilgic said that the developments would be monitored closely by the Turkish ministry, and that the Danish authorities would be informed.
"We understand the sensitivity and concerns of Danish authorities regarding this matter, and we will co-operate and coordinate with them."
The alleged assassination attempt on Hedegaard failed when the assailant's gun jammed.
Hedegaard, a well-known critic of Islam, established the Danish Free Press Society which says its aim is to defend freedom of expression.
He was convicted of hate speech in 2011 after making remarks against Muslims. He was subsequently fined 5,000 kroner, or about $850.
Denmark has strongly reacted to Hassan's release with the justice minister, Mette Frederiksen, calling it "incomprehensible."
Frederiksen's comments came after a delegation of high-ranking Danish officials visited Ankara on Friday last week to investigate the incident.
Previously, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard discussed the issue with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, complaining that the suspect was released without informing Danish authorities.
The Turkish foreign minister has offered to send a delegation from Turkey to discuss the issue.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ekim 2014, 00:11