Former PYD co-leader Salih Muslim released by Czech court despite Turkish extradition request
A Czech court ruled on Feb. 27 to release former Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-leader Salih Muslim who was detained on Feb. 25 in Prague, prompting a strong reaction from Turkey, which requested the country to extradite him.
Muslim’s Czech lawyer Miroslav Krutina said Prague’s Municipal Court ruled to release Muslim, adding that his client had promised the court not to obstruct further proceedings.
The court officials did not immediately comment on the hearing, which was held behind closed doors.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ slammed the court’s decision to release Muslim, saying it amounts to support for terrorism.
“This decision very clearly amounts to support for terrorism,” Bozdağ told reporters in Ankara.
He also said the decision is against international law, adding that it will have a negative impact on Turkish-Czech relations.
Bozdağ said the court ruling came as no surprise for Turkey.
“Because, the EU member countries’ stances on Turkey and on the people who have carried out terrorist acts against Turkey are obvious,” he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also blasted the release decision, saying that rejecting Turkey’s request for the provisional arrest of Muslim did not comply with Czech jurisdiction’s responsibilities of international law and the fight against terrorism.
“The PYD is a Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is considered as a terrorist organization by the European Union, including the Czech Republic which is one of the members of the EU,” it said in a statement.
The statement added that the decision of the Czech court showed it did not care about the killing of innocent civilians in terror attacks and the pains of their families.
“With this decision, the Czech Republic gives a new example that the rhetoric on the fight against terrorism in Europe was insincere and hardly believable,” the statement added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey issued a diplomatic note to the Czech Republic for the release of Muslim, adding that Turkey will pursue Muslim "wherever he goes."
Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said Turkey expects Czech authorities to compensate for the “mistake” it made by releasing Muslim.
Gül said the court’s decision was motivated by political reasons, adding Turkey would “never accept this decision.”
He said Turkey would pursue its legal rights on the issue.
He previously said that Ankara would not swap two Czech suspects held in custody for Muslim.
Ahead of the Prague ruling, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the court’s decision would be a “test” for the Czech Republic on its sensitivity toward the fight against terrorism and its solidarity toward a NATO ally.
“However, whatever the outcome [of the court ruling], these terrorist ringleaders will not be able to walk free, we will continue to make life unbearable for them,” Yıldırım said.
Muslim was detained by Czech police late on Feb. 24 at the request of the Turkish authorities.
Turkey accuses the former PYD leader of “attempting to disrupt the unity and territorial integrity of the state” through a series of terror attacks on Turkish soil that claimed the lives of scores of civilians.
In previous years Muslim liaised with Ankara on a number of diplomatic issues related to Syria, but has since been put on the Turkish Interior Ministry’s “most wanted terrorists” list, with a $1 million bounty on his head.