Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

In this Jan. 27, 2018, photo, U.S. Army soldiers speak to families in rural Anbar on a reconnaissance patrol near a coalition outpost in western Iraq. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court ordered the release and deportation of a suspected French militant sentenced on Monday to seven months in prison for entering the country illegally, saying she had already served her time.
Melina Bougedir, 27, was arrested last summer in former Daesh stronghold Mosul with her four children, three of whom have been repatriated to France.
Wearing a black dress and purple headscarf, she entered the courtroom holding her other child, a boy with blond hair.
Speaking in Arabic, she said that she had been a housewife in Mosul.
“I entered Syria with my French passport but Daesh took it from me. I stayed in Syria for four days and then came to Mosul with my husband and four children.”
She said that her French husband Maximilien, whom she said had been a cook for Daesh, was killed as Iraqi forces battled to oust the militant group from Mosul, which was recaptured last July. Asked her if she regretted what she did, she replied: “Yes.”
Iraq in December declared victory against Daesh after a years-long battle to retake large swathes of territory the extremists had seized in 2014.
An Iraqi court last month condemned a German woman to death by hanging after finding her guilty of belonging to Daesh, the first such sentence in a case involving a European woman.
Soon afterwards, lawyers for Bougedir and another French woman awaiting trial in Iraq for allegedly joining Daesh wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron warning that they could face the death penalty.
Several dozen French citizens suspected of links to the militant group are believed to be in detention camps or prisons in Syria and Iraq.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Baghdad last week that suspected militants should be tried in the countries where they committed their “crimes,” while reiterating France’s opposition to the death penalty.
Britain has also taken a firm stance against repatriation, as has Belgium which denied a request by one of its nationals to be sent home from Iraq in exchange for cooperating with the authorities.
Several hundred foreigners, both men and women, are thought to have been detained in Iraq for alleged links to Daesh.
In December, a Swedish man of Iraqi origin was among 38 people executed after being convicted of “terrorism.”
And on Sunday, an Iraqi court sentenced a Turkish woman to death and 11 other foreign widows to life in jail for belonging to Daesh, despite their pleas that they had been duped or forced by their husbands to join them in Iraq.


Turkey blocks NBA games featuring Erdogan-critic player

Updated 2 min 7 sec ago
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Turkey blocks NBA games featuring Erdogan-critic player

  • Turkey’s broadcasters have ignored Kanter’s games since he was indicted last year by a Turkish court
  • Kanter, a member of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, is a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

DUBAI: Turkish sports broadcaster, S Sport, has blocked the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) western conference finals between Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors from being screened due to the former’s center Enes Kanter.

“I can say clearly that we will not be broadcasting the Warriors-Blazers series,” S Sport commentator Omer Sarac told Reuters. “Furthermore, if Portland makes it to the finals, [that] will not be broadcast either… this situation is not about us, but it is what it is.”

Kanter, a member of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, is a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A warrant for his arrest has been issued by the Turkish government for alleged terrorism charges, and his passport was canceled in 2017.

“All these NBA fans, they want to watch the Western Conference finals, but they can’t all because of me. It’s funny and crazy. [The Turkish government] is afraid of an NBA player,” Kanter said in a phone interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday.

“I’m not a politician. It’s not my job, but everyone is so scared of Erdogan that I have to step up and speak out for freedom and human rights. It shows it’s a dictatorship in Turkey.”

Although Kanter is Turkey’s most successful basketball player ever, he is considered to be an “enemy of the country,” and Turkey’s broadcasters have ignored Kanter’s games since he was indicted last year by a Turkish court. 

In response, the NBA scrapped its contract with the local vendor running the Turkish Twitter account.

Basketball’s popularity is second only to soccer among Turkey’s 82 million people.

“It is mind-blowing that a conference final will not be broadcast in Turkey,” said Mete Aktas, a well-known Turkish NBA commentator and former chief editor of NBA Turkey magazine.

(With Reuters)