Turkey requests extradition of Kurdish ex-leader Salih Muslim

Salih Muslim, a former leader of Syria's Kurdish PYD, was arrested in Czech Republic on Saturday at Turkey's request.

    Turkish officials say Muslim will appear before a court in Prague on Monday [EPA]
    Turkish officials say Muslim will appear before a court in Prague on Monday [EPA]

    Turkey has submitted a request to extradite a former Kurdish Syrian leader from the Czech Republic, with a file explaining the arguments for the request, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

    Salih Muslim, a prominent former leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, was arrested in the Czech capital of Prague on Saturday at Turkey's request. 

    Bozdag said in a televised interview on Monday that Muslim is in police custody and would appear before a court in Prague later in the day.

    "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," Bozdag was quoted as saying.

    Czech authorities are to decide whether or not he would be remanded in custody, and returned to Turkey.

    PYD officials in northern Syria confirmed his arrest to Al Jazeera on Sunday, saying that it was not clear if he would be handed over to Turkey.

    Turkey's interior ministry had offered a bounty of nearly $1m for the arrest of Muslim, who is listed by Ankara as a "most wanted terrorist".

    Charges against Muslim

    According to state-run Anadolu news agency, the file for extradition recalls that a high court in Ankara had filed a case against Muslim for a deadly attack carried out in the capital in 2016.

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    The charges against him include damaging national unity and integrity, deliberate murder, damaging public property and transferring dangerous materials, according to Anadolu.

    The March 2016 attack at a popular shopping area in central Ankara had been carried out by an explosive-laden vehicle, and left 37 people dead and dozens others injured.

    The court had also issued an arrest warrant for Muslim, and asked the Interpol to issue a red notice against him.

    Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) active in Turkey.

    The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.

    The arrest came after Turkey called on the Czech Republic to arrest the former co-leader and sent warrants for his arrest to Prague, Turkish officials said.

    Turkey - together with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group - last month launched an air and ground offensive into Afrin in the northwest of Syria to vanquish the US-backed YPG fighters near its border.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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