Feb 26 2018

Ex-Kurdish leader expected in Czech court Tuesday

A court in the Czech Republic is to hear a Turkish extradition request on Tuesday against the former leader of Syria’s main Kurdish party, the political wing of the Syrian Kurdish forces that Turkey launched an ongoing cross-border operation against last month.

Turkish news agency Dünya Bülteni quoted Turkey's ambassador to Prague, Ahmet Necati Bigali, as saying Turkey had conveyed a request to arrest Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to the Czech Republic's Justice Ministry.

The PYD is the dominant Syrian Kurdish party in the northern Syria. Turkey says the PYD and its military wing, the YPG, is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is recognised as terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States and Turkey. 

Muslim's importance to Turkey increased with the operation in Afrin that began on Jan. 20. As leader of the PYD until September last year and latterly as its foreign affairs spokesman, Muslim is one of the visible and recognisable heads of the party.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry recently offered a bounty of nearly $1 million for Muslim, who is listed as a "most wanted terrorist" in Turkey.

PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was arrested in Kenya, in 1999 by Turkish intelligence agents with the support of the CIA and taken to Turkey. Öcalan, before going to Kenya, went to several countries but the governments of those countries refused to host him due to pressure from Ankara.