Turks remain mum on Hedegaard case
The Turkish ambassador, Mehmet Dönmez, has failed to shed any further light on how and why the Turkish government released the prime suspect in the failed assassination attempt on anti-Islam author Lars Hedegaard last year.
Dönmez, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry yesterday to explain the apparent release from prison of the 27-year-old, referred to as 'BH', said that no further information had been received but that he would intensify his requests for information from the Turkish authorities.
“I will send a request to the Justice Ministry in Ankara as quickly as possible to get more information,” Dönmez told TV2 News.
“Now the Justice Ministry and the Internal Affairs Ministry will look into the case. But we are still waiting on information about where the man is currently located.”
Part of an exchange?
It has been heavily speculated that BH was one of the close to 180 prisoners released and sent to Syria and Iraq in late September as part of an exchange with Islamic State, which released 46 Turkish and three Iraqi prisoners in return.
BH was arrested by the Turkish authorities at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul after the Copenhagen Police issued an international warrant for his arrest following the failed attempt on Hedegaard’s life in February 2013. After initially denying his involvement, BH soon wanted to be extradited to Denmark.
“About a week ago, we realised after interviewing a member of the suspect’s family, that he – to out great surprise and regret – had been released,” Jens Møller Jensen, a city police spokesperson, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
The Hedegaard case timeline:
5 Feb 2013 – A man impersonating a postman tries to shoot the Islam critic in the head in front of his residence in Frederiksberg. He misses and then the gun jams during a struggle, preventing further shots, before the assailant flees on foot.
25 April 2014 – A suspect, BH, is arrested in Turkey. BH is a Danish citizen with a Lebanese background who denies being guilty of the crime. BH has been in Syria since the shooting, the police say.
22 July 2014 – BH wants to be extradited to Denmark as soon as possible, but the request drags on.
20 September 2014 – Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, reveals that 49 hostages held by IS have been released. Apparently, 180 militant Islamists imprisoned in Turkey were in turn released.
11 October 2014 – The radio station Radio24syv reveals that BH has probably been released by the Turkish authorities. Hedegaard confirms that PET has admitted as much to him.
12 October 2014 – The Justice Ministry confirms it has received information indicating BH’s release. The foreign minister Martin Lidegaard demands an explanation from Turkey. The Turkish authorities have yet to confirm the release.