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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Turkey asks Germany to extradite Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim

Reuters , Monday 5 Mar 2018

Turkey said on Monday it had issued a second extradition request for Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim, calling for his temporary detention and extradition from Germany after a Czech court released him last week.

The issue is likely to come up when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meets German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin on Tuesday. German ministry officials confirmed the planned meeting but gave no further details.

Muslim, who formerly headed the PYD, Syria's main Kurdish party, was detained in Prague last week at Turkey's request.

On Saturday, at a demonstration attended by thousands of Kurds in Berlin, Muslim called for an immediate halt to Turkey's military operation in the Afrin region in northern Syria.

"The situation is very miserable ... hundreds of civilians being killed," Muslim told Reuters TV. "Germany should not support them. Turkey is now attacking, mostly using German weapons ... This is support for state terrorism."

Ankara considers the PYD and its YPG armed group terrorist organisations and says Muslim is linked to two bombings in the capital Ankara that killed dozens. Turkey sees both groups as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.

A Czech court ruled for Muslim's release, a move Turkey described as political, against international law and "clear support for terror". Ankara has said it would pursue Muslim "wherever he goes".

Muslim has said the allegations against him are false. He has also said he will remain in European Union territory and cooperate in any further proceedings.

Ankara requested Muslim's temporary detention and extradition from Germany on Friday but Berlin has yet to comply, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday.

"German authorities had to take measures and comply with the law between two countries, but unfortunately they have not complied," Bozdag, the main government spokesman, told a news conference. "We will... continue to invite Germany to act honestly and sincerely."

German officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the extradition request, which could complicate efforts by the two NATO allies to begin repairing their strained diplomatic relations.

Ankara launched a military operation inside Syria six weeks ago to sweep YPG fighters from its southern border.

Relations between Turkey and Europe have soured in the aftermath of a 2016 failed coup, as President Tayyip Erdogan has overseen a sweeping crackdown. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs, and more than 50,000 detained. Turkey says the measures are necessary for its security.

A Turkish court last month freed a German-Turkish journalist pending trial after indicting him for alleged security offences, a move that had been seen as potentially leading to an easing of tensions between the two NATO allies.

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