[UPDATE] Turkey says Czech court’s release of Muslim shows support for terrorism

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ (Mehmet Murat Onel / Anadolu Agency)

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Tuesday slammed a Czech court’s decision earlier in the day to release former co-chairperson of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim, the Anadolu news agency reported.

“The decision will affect [Turkey’s] relations with the Czech Republic,” Bozdağ told journalists.

Bozdağ said the court ruling contravened international law.

“This decision is in clear support of terrorism. This is a political decision that cannot be explained in terms of law. … This decision supports terrorist acts against Turkey,” Bozdağ said.

Muslim’s detention on Sunday was based on an Interpol Red Notice issued at Turkey’s request for his arrest. Turkish security officials and the Ministry of Justice had begun the administrative process for Muslim’s extradition.

Bozdağ said the court ruling came as no surprise to Turkey “because the EU member countries’ stance on Turkey and on the people who have carried out terrorist acts against Turkey is obvious.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also condemned the decision to release Muslim, saying that rejecting Turkey’s request for the provisional arrest of Muslim did not comply with the Czech Republic’s responsibilities under international law and the fight against terrorism.

“The PYD is a Syrian offshoot of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, including the Czech Republic, a member of the EU,” it said in a statement.

“With this decision, the Czech Republic has provided a new example that the rhetoric on the fight against terrorism in Europe was insincere and hardly believable,” the statement added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had issued a diplomatic note to the Czech Republic criticizing the release of Muslim, adding that Turkey would pursue Muslim “wherever he goes,” according to the Hürriyet Daily News.

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said Turkey expects Czech authorities to compensate for the “mistake” it made by releasing Muslim.

Gül said the court’s decision was politically motivated, adding that Turkey would “never accept this decision.”

The Turkish Interior Ministry recently put Muslim’s name on the list of “most wanted terrorists” and offered a bounty of nearly $1 million.

Muslim is being sought on charges of disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state, homicide, attempted homicide, damaging public property and transporting hazardous substances, Anadolu said.

The PYD is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed PKK, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

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