Turkey asks Germany to arrest and extradite former PYD co-chair Salih Muslim

Turkey asks Germany to arrest and extradite former PYD co-chair Salih Muslim

Turkey asks Germany to arrest and extradite former PYD co-chair Salih Muslim

Turkey has officially demanded the temporary arrest and extradition of former Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair Salih Muslim from Germany, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 5. 

Turkey issued request to the German authorities for the arrest and extradition of Muslim on March 2 but Germany has so far “failed to meet the expectations of judicial practices” between the two countries, Turkish government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ stated on March 5. 

In the file conveyed to Berlin by the Foreign Ministry, Turkey said Muslim is accused of “committing terror crimes in Turkey,” he added.

“We will continue to voice Germany’s hesitant attitude on this issue at every turn,” Bozdağ told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Muslim 'temporarily detained' in Prague

Muslim was “temporarily detained” in the Czech Republic capital Prague upon Turkey’s request on Feb. 25. But a Czech court on Feb. 27 ruled to release Muslim, prompting a strong reaction from Turkey, which requested the country to extradite him. The Czech Foreign Ministry hit back, saying it rejected allegations that the court’s move “runs counter to the Czech Republic’s pledge to fight international terrorism.”

Muslim was subsequently seen in Germany after he was released by the Czech court, appearing at a demonstration in Berlin on March 3 against Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG in the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin. Turkish media published images of the demonstration in the German capital, which featured many flags with images of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and the YPG’s female branch, the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).

During the protest, Muslim told supporters he believed in Europe’s justice system despite Turkey’s actions.    

“I would like to say we believe in the judges in Europe ... The Turkish game will never work in Europe. I am now free and I will be free until we win victory in Syria and Afrin,” Muslim said, according to a video shared on Facebook by the PYD.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is set to visit Germany on March 6 and meet his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel on March 7. The visit comes just after German Chancellor Angela Merkel got the green light to form her fourth government after the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) voted in favor of another grand coalition.

Some officials in Ankara and Berlin hope that relations between the two countries are in process of relative recovery, following the release of 12 German citizens held in Turkey since December 2017, including journalists Meşale Tolu and Deniz Yücel.

A Turkish delegation headed by Interior Ministry Undersecretary Muhterem İnce was in Berlin on Jan. 17-18 for discussions with his counterpart Emily Haber about the joint struggle against terrorism, especially the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the network of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher accused of being behind the July 2016 coup attempt. Some 400 Turkish citizens, including high ranking Turkish military officers, have sought political asylum in Germany since the coup attempt.

As Turkey regards the PYD as an offshoot of the outlawed PKK, Muslim is currently a suspect in three different cases related to deadly terror attacks in Istanbul and Ankara.

Ankara’s 4th and 14th Heavy Criminal Courts, as well as the Ankara 2nd Criminal Court of Peace, issued an arrest warrant for Muslim upon the request of prosecutors for the bombing of Ankara Güvenpark on March 13, 2016, in which 37 people were killed and 125 were injured, the bombing at Istanbul’s Merasim Street on Feb. 17, 2016, in which 29 people lost their lives, and the explosion at the Ankara Tax Office on Feb. 1, 2018.

Accused of “attempting to disrupt the unity and territorial integrity of the state,” Muslim is under the red category on the Interior Ministry’s “wanted terrorists” list, with a 4-million Turkish Lira reward for his capture.

The Justice Ministry applied to Interpol to issue a red notice for Muslim’s arrest, after which Interpol created a registry for him but refrained from issuing a red notice.