Salih Muslim, former co-chairperson of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) was detained in Czech capital Prague on Sunday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkish Interior Ministry recently added Muslim’s name to its terror list. The ministry’s terror list contains the names and details of hundreds of people from various terrorist organizations, ranking them in five color-coded categories from red (the most wanted) to blue, green, orange and grey.
Muslim has been added to the red category where a reward of TL 4 million is offered for help leading to the arrest of individuals on that part of the list.
According to a report by Anadolu news agency, the Czech authorities also asked Turkey to submit the necessary documents for Muslim’s extradition. Turkish security officials and the Ministry of Justice have begun the administrative process for the extradition of Salih Muslim.
Turkey’s justice ministry said it had started efforts for Muslim to be extradited to Ankara, and had demanded that Czech authorities capture and arrest Muslim.
“Upon finding the person in question was in the Czech Republic, the necessary contacts were made and it was demanded that he be captured and arrested to be extradited back to our country,” the ministry said in a statement.
Turkey’s justice, interior and foreign ministries are working to secure the extradition of Muslim, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bakir Bozdag said, adding that Muslim was in detention in Prague. Speaking to reporters, Bozdag, who is also the main government spokesman, said the Turkish and Czech foreign ministers would discuss the issue.
The Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also demanded the Czech authorities extradite Muslim in a speech to an adoring crowd in Şanlıurfa, a city in south-eastern Turkey, on Sunday. “The head of the PYD was caught. Our hope is that the Czech Republic will deliver him to Turkey,” Erdoğan said.
In 2014, Muslim paid a visit to Turkey and met with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials. In an interview he gave to the Radikal daily back then, he said his visit took place following an invitation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Over the past several years, Turkish government’s view of Muslim has apparently changed.
According to a report by pr-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), Muslim was in Prague. Muslim was tracked by the Turkish intelligence in the hotel where he was staying, and his images were published by the Turkish media. After this development, Czech police intensified security measures around the hotel.
Czech police then came to the hotel and told Muslim that he was to be detained on Turkish government’s complaint. Kurdish officials have made attempts for Muslim’s release but have not received a response yet.
Should Muslim be extradited to Turkey he would be one of the highest ranking Kurds to be captured since the 1999 arrest of PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan. The 67-year-old Muslim has been wanted by Turkish government in connection with a February 2016 bombing in Ankara that killed 30 people. He denies any connection to the attack for which a splinter group claimed responsibility.
Earlier in February, Turkey elevated Muslim to its most-wanted list, and offered a $1 million (€810,000) reward for his capture. He faces 30 life sentences if convicted.
The inclusion of Muslim’s name on the terror list comes at a time when the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the PYD, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). (SCF with turkishminute.com)