Solid evidence needed for extradition of FETÖ suspects: EU anti-terror coordinator

Solid evidence needed for extradition of FETÖ suspects: EU anti-terror coordinator

SEVİL ERKUŞ - Ankara
Solid evidence needed for extradition of FETÖ suspects: EU anti-terror coordinator

Turkey should submit “substantial evidence, not circumstantial evidence” if it wants Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) suspects to be extradited from EU member states, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove has said.

Kerchove was in Ankara on Nov. 28 for a Turkish-EU Counter-Terrorism Dialogue meeting. He also met National Intelligence Agency (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan and Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın while in the Turkish capital.

Ankara has long complained about not receiving positive feedback on its extradition demands from EU member states, particularly regarding files of FETÖ suspects.

However, Kerchove recalled that at present the EU has made no assessment to officially designate FETÖ a terrorist organization. As a result, Turkey cannot apply to EU member states on the basis that the target is a terror suspect, said Kerchove, who said extradition applications should instead be based on criminal accusations, such as killing on the night of the July 2016 coup attempt.

“It should be based on a crime according to Turkish criminal law, not a terrorist crime. It’s up to Turkey to provide all member states with the necessary substantial evidence of the person’s direct implication in the killing of military [personnel], for example,” he said.

“Because in the EU there is not this label of ‘terrorist organization’ [for FETÖ] you cannot apply the same types of incrimination that you have for terrorism,” Kerchove noted.

“Still, in the U.S. and in Europe we have a pretty wide definition of terrorism, which includes not only the person who has committed the crime or killing but also their supporters and advisers,” he said.

 ‘Europe moving against displays of PKK symbols’

Separately, the Turkish government has long been urging the EU to extend its ban for using “terror symbols” to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), after PKK banners and slogans were reported at a number of rallies in European cities. On the issue, Kerchove pointed to Germany and Austria’s recent measures against the use of PKK symbols and flags at demonstrations.

“There is a lot of progress in member states to address the concerns of Turkey. The trend is in the direction of being more and more aggressive towards the display of [PKK] signs and symbols,” he said.

Kerchove also said he was encouraging other EU member states to take more aggressive action in line with the example in Germany, as the PKK is deemed a terrorist organization by the EU.

“We are discussing this. But you have to look at some of the constitutional protections in some member states. These protections may differ from one to another and may take different forms,” he added.

Asked if the EU could extend the ban on the use of such symbols, Kerchove said that at the moment “there is no formal legal instrument to that end.”

Financial leg of PKK

Meanwhile, the EU official urged Ankara to make necessary legislative amendments on data protection so that negotiations can be launched between Turkey and Europol for an operation agreement paving the way for the exchange of personal data on security issues.

If it does so, Europol and Turkey’s national police force will be able to exchange personal data on terror organizations such as the PKK, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C) and on any forms of organized crime and human trafficking, he said.

Kerchove stressed that Turkey should focus on “cutting the financial resources of the PKK across Europe through cooperation with EU institutions,” pointing to the financial intelligence unit network of Europol for its expertise against finance of terrorism.

“This is something very important because if you want to crack down on the PKK in Europe you have to address the financing side,” he said.

Kerchove also said Turkey should improving cooperation with the EU’s agency for judicial cooperation, Eurojust, in order to make extradition requests as speedy as possible.

On security concerns, Turkey could work more closely with Frontex, “which has developed very quickly because of the migration crisis,” and which has developed common risk indicators to identify the flow of refugees, including possible returnees from fighting in Syria and Iraq.

FETÖ, PKK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Frontex, Europol, EU, European Union, Gilles de Kerchove