Czech prosecutors will not extradite Syrian Kurdish leader


Prague (AFP)

The Czech Republic on Monday said it would not extradite to Turkey a prominent Syrian Kurdish leader who was briefly detained in Prague last month, as Saleh Muslim has already left the country.

"The prosecutor's office has closed the preliminary extradition procedure because this person is not in the Czech Republic," office spokeswoman Stepanka Zenklova told reporters.

Muslim's lawyer Miroslav Krutina confirmed that his client was no longer in the country, telling the CTK news agency the court had only required Muslim to stay in the European Union.

His current location is unknown. Now that the Czech Republic has closed their case, the lawyer said he believes Muslim is "in principle" no longer obliged to remain in the EU.

Muslim, the former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was detained on February 24 at an upmarket Prague hotel before a court released him three days later.

Muslim is wanted by Ankara over a February 2016 attack in Ankara that killed 29 people and the Turkish authorities blamed on Kurdish militants.

He has been charged and faces 30 life sentences if found guilty but he has dismissed the accusations against him.

Turkey says the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia are linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this month that Turkey would continue to pursue Muslim.

"Let him go wherever, we will follow and not give up," Cavusoglu had told reporters.