Turkey submits files to Czech authorities requesting extradition of former PYD head Salih Muslim
Turkey has submitted files to the Czech authorities regarding the extradition of Salih Muslim, the former co-leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), who was arrested in the Czech Republic upon Turkey’s request on Feb. 25.
“[As a part of the procedure] the Justice Ministry had to submit a file including an arrest warrant and extradition request to the Czech authorities. The Justice Ministry has finalized its preparations for the file and the file was submitted to the Czech authorities as of yesterday,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Feb. 26 in a televised interview with private broadcaster NTV.
Stating that Turkey and the Czech Republic are signatory states of the European Convention on Extradition, Bozdağ said this is binding for the two countries. “The regulations for the extradition will be implemented within this perspective. The Czech legal authorities will consider Turkey’s requests within this framework and will decide in favor of extradition,” he added.
According to the extradition agreement between Turkey and the Czech Republic, a demand for extradition should be negotiated between the justice ministries of the two countries.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry are following the process closely, adding that “necessary steps are being taken.”
“Steps to make sure nothing wrong is done are being taken by holding necessary meetings there,” Erdoğan told reporters on Feb. 26 at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport.
Muslim, the former co-leader of the PYD, was “temporarily detained” in the Czech capital Prague on Feb. 25 upon Turkey’s request.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet on Feb. 26, Turkish Ambassador to Prague Ahmet Necati Bigalı said Muslim arrived in Prague on Feb. 24 and was detected by Turkish Interpol, prompting Ankara to file a demand for his arrest from the Czech authorities.
“Muslim had some meetings at the Mariott Hotel. After Interpol detected him a necessary application to Czech Interpol was filed and we also intervened in the case,” Bigalı said.
He noted that Muslim is expected to appear at the court on Feb. 27 following a postponement that came on the request of the prosecutor, who demanded extra time to examine the files.
“We request his arrest and extradition. If there is a rule for extradition he can be arrested for 40 days according to European conventions. Our ministry will send the necessary files for extradition within this timeframe,” Bigalı said.
The ambassador also denied reports on Feb. 26 that the Czech Republic demanded that Turkey release two Czech suspects held on terror charges in return for Muslim’s extradition.
“These claims are unfounded. We do not have such information,” he said.
As Turkey regards the PYD as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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 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.