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Syrian Kurdish Leader Freed From Czech Detention

Turkey accuses Salih Muslim of helping plan Ankara bomb atrocity in 2016.

27 February 2018

Salih Muslim, one of Syria’s most prominent Kurdish figures, is a free man today after a court in Prague ordered his release.

 

Czech police arrested Muslim in Prague Saturday at Turkey’s request, Al Jazeera writes, citing Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

 

One of Muslim’s lawyers, Miroslav Krutina, confirmed the report, telling journalists the Prague city court had ordered his release, iDnes reports.

 

 

Czech authorities may still consider Ankara’s request to extradite Muslim to Turkey, according to Reuters. He is suspected of involvement in a March 2016 bombing in Ankara that caused 37 fatalities.

 

Turkey deems Muslim, a former head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, a “most wanted terrorist” and offered a reward of nearly $1 million for his arrest, according to Al Jazeera. Turkey accuses the PYD and its aligned military force the YPG of being terrorist groups with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades’-long struggle for greater autonomy within Turkey. The United States and European Union also consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

 

"Turkey expects Salih Muslim – who is a leader of a terrorist group and is still actively plotting terrorist attacks against Turkey – to be extradited to our country in line with legal requirements between our countries," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said yesterday.

 

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky yesterday denied speculation in both countries’ media about a possible swap of Muslim for two Czechs serving time in Turkey on charges of helping the YPG, AFP reported earlier, noting that Muslim has until now been able to travel freely in the European Union.

 

A Turkish court last year sentenced the Czechs, Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova, to six years and three months in prison. They claimed they were on a humanitarian mission to construct a field hospital for Syrian Kurds, iDnes wrote in December.

 

 

  • Justifying Muslim’s release, the Prague court accepted his pledges to attend future court proceedings and to remain within the EU, iDnes says.

 

  • The U.S.-backed YPG controls a strip of land in northwestern Syria, near the Turkish border, where they are currently trying to rebuff an offensive by Turkish and allied Syrian rebel forces, Al Jazeera writes. Kurdish forces were instrumental in the defeat of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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