Czechs re­ject Turk­ish crit­i­cism af­ter re­leas­ing Syr­ian Kur­dish leader


PRAGUE: The Czech For­eign Min­istry re­jected ac­cu­sa­tions the coun­try sup­ported ter­ror­ism, fol­low­ing state­ments from Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials crit­i­cal of a Czech court’s de­ci­sion to re­lease a Syr­ian Kur­dish leader.

Saleh Mus­lim was de­tained over the week­end in the Czech cap­i­tal at the re­quest of Tur­key, which ac­cuses him of dis­rupt­ing the state and ag­gra­vated mur­der. Tur­key’s gov­ern­ment said his re­lease was po­lit­i­cal and “a clear sup­port for ter­ror.”

“The Czech Re­pub­lic strongly re­jects any ac­cu­sa­tion of sup­port of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism,” the min­istry said, adding ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings have not been con­cluded by the court de­ci­sion.

A Czech court on Tues­day or­dered the re­lease of the for­mer PYD leader.

Mus­lim for­merly headed the PYD, the ma­jor com­po­nent of a coali­tion that gov­erns Kur­dish-held au­ton­o­mous ar­eas of north­ern Syria, and deemed a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Tur­key.

“The court ruled Mr. Mus­lim will be re­leased,” said Mar­keta Puci, a spokes­woman for the Prague Mu­nic­i­pal Court. She added that the court rul­ing had taken le­gal ef­fect as both the state at­tor­ney and the de­fense gave up their rights to ap­peal.

Mus­lim pledged to the Czech court to re­main on EU ter­ri­tory for the time pe­riod given for Tur­key to file a for­mal ex­tra­di­tion re­quest, which it­self could take months to de­cide given the ap­peals.

Mus­lim said al­le­ga­tions against him were false and that he was sur­prised by his de­ten­tion, given he had pre­vi­ously trav­eled to Bel­gium, Ger­many and France un­event­fully.

“No­body was tak­ing it (the charges like­li­hood of by Tur­key) se­ri­ously, I didn’t know that they will take it se­ri­ously here,” Mus­lim said. “First of all, I am a cit­i­zen of Syria, I am not a cit­i­zen of Tur­key, sec­ond thing, I am a politi­cian.”

Turk­ish Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ab­dul­hamit Gul said Ankara ex­pected Czech au­thor­i­ties to com­pen­sate for the “mis­take” of re­leas­ing Mus­lim and would pur­sue its le­gal rights on the mat­ter.

Tur­key’s Am­bas­sador to Prague Ah­met Ne­cati Bi­gali told Reuters Tur­key was “sad­dened” by the de­ci­sion and that it could have po­lit­i­cal ef­fects. “This is not be­fit­ting our friend­ship with the Czech Re­pub­lic,” he said by tele­phone. “This de­ci­sion has surely cast a shadow over our re­la­tions.”

Tur­key launched a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive last month in Syria’s Afrin re­gion against the Kur­dish YPG mili­tia, the PYD’s armed af­fil­i­ate, which it deems a me­nace along its bor­der.

Ankara sees the PYD and YPG as ex­ten­sions of the out­lawed Kur­dish PKK move­ment, which has waged a decades-long in­sur­gency on Turk­ish soil.

Mus­lim is on a “wanted ter­ror­ists” list on the Turk­ish In­te­rior Min­istry’s web­site. He is ac­cused of links to two deadly bomb­ings in Ankara that killed dozens of peo­ple.

Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry said the Czech court’s de­ci­sion showed Prague “did not care about in­no­cent civil­ians los­ing their lives in ter­ror­ist at­tacks or the pain of their fam­i­lies.”

Mus­lim said he had not yet de­cided where he would go next, but added he had per­mis­sion for res­i­dency in EU mem­ber Fin­land.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu later said the court’s de­ci­sion did not mean “ev­ery­thing was over” and that Ankara would pur­sue Mus­lim “wher­ever he goes.”

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