Supreme Court Orders Release of Turkish Man Imprisoned in Brazil under The Threat of Extradition

Businessman is accused by Erdogan government of being a terrorist

Flávia Mantovani
São Paulo

Supreme Court justice Edson Fachin ordered this Tuesday (7) the release from preventive prison of Ali Sipahi, a Turkish man who had been naturalized Brazilian. He had been imprisoned since the beginning of April after the Turkish government requested his extradition to Turkey. 

Owner of a restaurant in São Paulo where he has lived since 2007, Sipahi is accused of being close to an organization that the Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has labeled as a terrorist. 

Now he can wait in freedom until his extradition case is judged. According to the decision, he will have to use an electronic ankle bracelet, turn over his passport and he cannot leave São Paulo until the judgment, which still doesn’t have a final date. 

Fachin's decision considered “his personal elements that link his extradition to Brazil, his residence in Brazilian territory since 2007, Brazilian nationality since 2016, his business activities, the lack of criminal records and the need to keep his family together, who depend on him. "

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SÃO PAULO/SP, 03.05.2019: Ali Sipahi. (Foto: Zanone Fraissat/Folhapress) - Zanone Fraissat

Sipahi is married to a Turkish woman, also naturalized Brazilian, and the couple has a son born in Brazil. If he is convicted in Turkey, he can receive a sentence of 7.5 years to 15 years' imprisonment.

The Ankara prosecutor accuses him of being a member of Hizmet - an organization of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, disliked by President Erdogan and considered a terrorist by his government.

His arrest sparked fear among Turkish immigrants, who see the request for extradition as part of a persecution campaign led by Erdogan against opponents. Some decided to leave Brazil, afraid of being the next target.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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