US rebukes Germany for deporting Islamic militant to Turkey
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
In this Aug. 11, 2009 file photo, defendant Adem Yılmaz reacts in a courtroom in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Yılmaz finished serving his sentence in October, 2018 stemming from a foiled plot to attack U.S. targets in Germany. (Ina Fassbender / Pool via AP)
Adem Yılmaz, a Turkish citizen, has been charged by a U.S. federal grand jury with conspiring to carry out a 2008 suicide bombing in Afghanistan, which left two U.S. soldiers dead and 11 others injured.
Yılmaz, also known as Ebu Talha, was deported to Turkey recently after serving 11 years in a German prison for his role in planning large-scale attacks in Germany.
The United States had demanded that Yılmaz be handed over to face the charges against him brought in New York.
Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he was "gravely disappointed" by Germany's decision to deport Yılmaz to Turkey rather than extradite him to the United States.
"The German government deliberately helped Yılmaz escape justice by placing him on a plane to Turkey," Whitaker said in a sharply worded statement.
"The German government has refused to take any responsibility for failing to extradite him to the United States, has flouted their treaty obligations and has undermined the rule of law," the acting attorney general said.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan complained directly to Germany during a meeting in Washington on Feb. 6 with visiting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Germany's ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber.
"Yılmaz is a convicted terrorist. He's charged with serious crimes by the U.S.," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.
"The U.S. will never relent in its effort to bring Yılmaz to justice," he said, adding that Washington had also been in touch with Turkish authorities.
A German foreign ministry source said the deportation of Yılmaz to Turkey was a "decision of the independent justice system" and was made "in compliance with the standards of the rule of law."
Relations between Germany and the United States have been strained since Donald Trump became president, with the U.S. leader openly criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcome to migrants from war-torn countries and questioning the value of the NATO alliance.
But Palladino said the United States still considered Germany a close ally, explaining: "Friends must be frank with one another at times when they have concerns."
A seven-count indictment seeking Yılmaz's arrest was issued several years ago by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Yılmaz, a member of a group called the Islamic Jihad Union, was accused of carrying out attacks on U.S. troops on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2006.
Yılmaz also was alleged to have had contacts with the man who carried out the March 3, 2008 suicide bombing in Afghanistan that killed two U.S. soldiers.