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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


7PKK Designated as Terrorist Organization
7Kurdish Protests & Demonstrations in Europe
7-9PKK Leader Ocalan: Operation to Apprehend / US Involvement / Trial

DPB #20
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1999, 1:10 P.M.


QUESTION: The third question, what do you know about this whole operation of the apprehension, and if there is any US involvement by helping Turkey or any contacts with the involved governments?

MR. FOLEY: I believe Mr. Lockhart spoke to this briefly this morning over at the White House. What I can tell you is that the United States did not apprehend or transfer Ocalan or transport him to Turkey.

QUESTION: Mr. Lockhart, since you mentioned his statement, he said "no direct involvement in Ocalan's hand-over to Turkey." Can you explain to us this use of hand-over, by whom?

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me repeat what I said. The United States did not apprehend or transfer Ocalan or transport him to Turkey. In other words, US personnel did not participate in any of those actions that I just described. It is no secret - because we've been saying this publicly from this podium and elsewhere - that our policy toward the whole Ocalan issue has been a very clear declaration on our part that he should be brought to justice. We have had extensive diplomatic efforts that we have undertaken to bring him to justice. We have been in frequent diplomatic contact with all governments concerned. I can't get into the nature of our diplomatic exchanges, but this is not new. This has been the case ever since he turned up in Italy some months ago.

QUESTION: In recent days, have you had any contact - except with the Turkish Government that I understand you have regular contacts about, probably, this issue. Have you had any contact with the Greek Government either today, regarding the hostage situations around Europe, or --

MR. FOLEY: As I said, we've been in frequent diplomatic contact on the Ocalan issue going back to, I believe it was in January, when he showed up in Italy, if I'm not mistaken, with quite a number of governments, including the two that you mention.

QUESTION: But you are not in a position to say who handed over Mr. Ocalan to the --

MR. FOLEY: No, I'm not.

QUESTION: But your answer stops short of ruling out an operational role in some form or another by the US in his apprehension.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think I was fairly clear about what I said - that the United States did not apprehend or transfer Ocalan or transport him to Turkey. US personnel did not participate in those actions. I think I've answered the question as best I can in terms of what US personnel did and did not do, and I really have nothing more to add to that.

QUESTION: But there are other ways the United States can be helpful , and that includes sort of finding where he was, knowing his movements, counseling people on how to lure him into Kenyan --

MR. FOLEY: Well, some of what you're referring to may have to do with intelligence matters that, as you know, I can't get into. I'm not, as I said, going to talk about our diplomatic exchanges, either.

QUESTION: I didn't use the word "intelligence."

MR. FOLEY: I just did.


QUESTION: Do you expect Mr. Ocalan will now receive a fair trial?

MR. FOLEY: We certainly hope so. We believe that Turkey and all of its citizens should take this opportunity to redouble their efforts at reconciliation, in line with Prime Minister Ecevit's recent plea. Moreover, we believe that a lasting solution to the situation of Kurds in Turkey lies in the long-term enhancement of democracy for all of Turkey's citizens. We certainly trust that Turkey will conduct a fair and open trial in a manner consistent with international standards of due process. We don't have any reason to expect otherwise, but certainly the world community will be looking forward to a trial of that nature.


QUESTION: May I go back to Ocalan?

MR. FOLEY: If you wish; I don't have much more to add.

QUESTION: The Turkish Prime Minister announced today that the terrorist organization, PKK, had brought Turkey to face justice. He said, "He will pay the price of his accounts to independent Turkish courts." Do you have any comment, a little bit more on that?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have any more to add. I thought I spoke at some length about how the international community views the prospect of such a trial in Turkey. We certainly expect that it will conform to international standards of justice, of due process, of openness, a protection of defendant's rights. We have no reason to expect otherwise.

Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 2:10 P.M.)


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