Turkey is again trying to hold a dual citizen of Turkey and Finland residing in Tampere responsible for insulting its president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The latest request for mutual legal assistance arrived at the Finnish Ministry of Justice shortly after Erdoğan began publicly setting out the conditions for his country to support Finland's membership of Nato.
Turkey has previously requested the extradition of the Tampere man once before, but the Ministry of Justice denied the request in 2021. The request for mutual legal assistance is dated 23 May in Turkey.
The man is accused by Turkey of posting derogatory pictures of the President and derogatory comments about him on Facebook, according to the prosecutor. The man from Tampere has repeatedly denied the crime.
On June 27, several Turkish media outlets published a list of persons whom Turkey wants Finland and Sweden to extradite as "terrorists" or suspects of other crimes. While this Tampere man is not claimed to be a terrorist, he is listed as a suspect for defamation of Turkey's president.
The Ministry of Justice has received two extradition requests from Turkey this year, but they were made prior to Finland seeking admission into Nato.
There have, however, been several requests for legal assistance since Erdoğan began to impose conditions on Finland. Taina Neira of the Ministry of Justice says that these requests make no reference to any list published in the Turkish media.
Turkey has requested the extradition of the Tampere man once, but the justice ministry rejected the request in 2021.
The Pirkanmaa District Court rejected Turkey's previous requests for legal assistance in 2019 and 2021.
With the current request for legal assistance, the Turkish prosecutor is asking Finland for legal assistance to continue the trial against the Tampere man in Turkey.
Turkey has not renewed its extradition request but wants the Finnish court to summon the man to appear in the case.
Request been rejected twice as human rights violation
The Finnish Act on International Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters states that legal assistance shall not be granted if it would be contrary to the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The latest request for legal assistance from Turkey has not yet been opened.
According to previous requests for legal assistance from Turkey, the alleged crimes would have taken place in February 2016. The Turkish prosecutor has already filed charges against the man from Tampere in Turkey during December 2016.
In its decision on the second request for legal assistance, the Pirkanmaa District Court stated that granting legal assistance would be in conflict with the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms due to Turkey's criminal code, which would put the case under direct influence from the Turkish president.
While the court did mention that the writings of the Tampere man were vulgar, they were clearly directed at the Turkish regime and political system, and did not constitute defamation.
According to the court, the writings can be assessed as provocative comments related to political disagreements and thus be considered understandable.
The district court found the political nature of the Tampere man's writings would inhibit his chance at a fair trial in Turkey. Therefore, the court did not grant previous requests for legal assistance from Turkey.
The court previously found that granting Turkey's legal assistance would be contrary to the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Finnish legal system.