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Iran Press TV

Court in Prague releases Syrian Kurdish PYD leader

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 27, 2018 01:12PM

A court in the Czech Republic has decided to release Salih Muslim, a former co-leader of Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), despite an extradition request by Turkey.

Miroslav Krutina, a lawyer of Muslim, said on Tuesday that the Kurdish politician was released earlier in the day after a hearing in Prague.

"The judge released my client," said Krutina, adding that Muslim had vowed to participate in all proceedings related to the request for extradition.

Muslim was arrested on Saturday on a red notice of Interpol requested by Turkey. He was attending a conference on the Middle East when a Turkish participant took a photo of him and tipped off the police.

Muslim has been a very influential figure in the PYD even after his resignation from co-leadership. Several dozen Kurds gathered in front of the municipal court building in central Prague to express their solidarity with the Kurdish politician. They hailed the decision by Judge Jaroslav Pytloun to release Muslim.

Pytloun would not elaborate on the reasoning behind his decision. Authorities in Ankara had said before the Tuesday hearing that Muslim's case was a "day of reckoning" for the Czech Republic. They called on Prague, an ally of Ankara in NATO, to hand over Muslim so that he could face trial over terror charges against him. Turkey's Justice Ministry also sent formal documents to Prague on Monday, demanding Muslim's extradition.

Turkey's reaction

In Ankara, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters, "This decision is very clearly a decision in support for terrorism."

"We know, the world knows, the Czech Republic knows that PYD-YPG-PKK... is a bloody-minded terror organization, which has harmed civilians," he said, making a reference to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The Turkish official also warned that the verdict would affect ties between Turkey and the Czech Republic although he did not elaborate on any specific Turkish action over the case.

Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul also called on Czech authorities to reverse in the "shortest possible time" the decision on Muslim's release, which he called a mistake. He said Turkey could not accept a verdict which was not in line with international law.

Turkey announced a $1 million award for Muslim's arrest when he was put on Ankara's most wanted list earlier in February. Turkish prosecutors brought fresh charges against Muslim on Monday, accusing him of involvement in a terror attack earlier this month on a tax office in Ankara.

The Turkish government views the PYD, and its militant wing YPG, as an arm of the outlawed PKK militants operating in Turkey. The Turkish military launched an incursion into northern Syrian territories last month to clear the region of Afrin and surrounding areas of the YPG. The operation has hardly fulfilled its objectives although Ankara insists it would continue with the illegal campaign until the entire eastern Euphrates is cleared.

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