Czech court releases detained former Syrian Kurdish leader
Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, was detained in Prague on Saturday based on a Turkish request for his arrest.
A Czech court has ruled that the former leader of a Syrian Kurdish party detained by authorities in Prague will be released, despite an extradition request from Turkey.
Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, was detained in the Czech capital on Saturday based on a Turkish request for his arrest.
According to Mr Muslim’s Czech lawyer Miroslav Krutina, Prague’s Municipal Court ruled to release him. The court officials did not immediately comment on the hearing, which was held behind close doors.
Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist group linked to outlawed Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey’s own borders. Mr Muslim was put on Turkey’s most-wanted list earlier in February, with a one million dollar (£714,000) reward offered for his capture.
Ahead of the Prague ruling, Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said the court’s decision would be a “test” for the Czech Republic on its sensitivity toward the fight against terrorism and its solidarity with a Nato ally.
“However, whatever the outcome (court ruling), these terrorist ringleaders will not be able to walk free, we will continue to make life unbearable for them,” Mr Yildirim said.
The PYD is the leading political Kurdish force in northern Syria, and Mr Muslim remains highly influential in the party, even after stepping down as co-chair last year.
On January 20, Turkey launched an incursion into northern Syria, seeking to rout the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG, from the enclave of Afrin. The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD.