Feb 27 2018

Czech court frees Syrian Kurdish leader

A Czech court freed the foreign affairs spokesman and former leader of Syria’s main Kurdish party on Tuesday, two days after his arrest pending a verdict on a Turkish request for his extradition, Kurdistan Regional Government broadcaster Rudaw said.

Salih Muslim stepped down as co-leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) last year, but as its foreign affairs spokesman is still the most widely recognised face of the group that controls much of northern and eastern Syria. Turkey launched an operation against the Syrian Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin last month, but has made slow progress in its offensive and become embroiled in a diplomatic row with the United States, which has backed Syrian Kurdish fighting Islamic State.

Turkey has requested Muslim’s extradition on terrorism charges. Some Turkish press sources speculated he would be exchanged for two Czech citizens being held in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said Muslim’s case would mark be an examination day for Prague, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

Seventy-four members of the European Parliament signed a petition to release Muslim, saying his group had played a key role in the fight against Islamic State.