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Turkey presses Czech authorities to extradite detained Kurdish leader

AFP , Sunday 25 Feb 2018
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The Turkish government wants the Czech authorities to extradite a Syrian Kurdish leader detained this weekend to face terror charges in Turkey, it said on Sunday.

"Our wish is that he is extradited," Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said after the arrest in Prague of Saleh Muslim, the former co-chair of Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), noting that both Turkey and the Czech Republic were parties to the European Convention on Extradition.

He said that three Turkish ministries -- the foreign ministry, the interior ministry and the justice ministry -- would be working with the Czech authorities to bring this about.

Bozdag confirmed that Muslim had been detained earlier this weekend at a Prague hotel at Ankara's request, describing him as the "head of a terror group".

The Turkish justice ministry said in a statement that "efforts have started for the extradition (of Muslim) to Turkey".

It said that if he is remanded in custody by a Czech court, a formal extradition request will be sent to Prague in line with the European Convention on Extradition.

The arrest comes as Turkey presses a military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia -- the military wing of the PYD -- in the western enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

Turkey sees the YPG and PYD as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which for over three decades has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state and is banned by Turkey, the US and the European Union as a terror group.

Muslim is wanted by Turkey over a February 2016 bombing in Ankara that killed 29 people that the Turkish authorities blamed on the PKK.

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