Bulgarian authorities have extradited a man to Turkey who was sought for helping the alleged instigator of a deadly bombing in İstanbul in November flee abroad, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Hazni Gölge, who was extradited to Turkey on Tuesday, is accused of helping Bilal Hassan, the alleged instigator of the İstanbul bombing, flee abroad after the attack.
Turkey’s Security Directorate General on Jan. 7 requested Gölge’s extradition from the Bulgarian INTERPOL police after it was discovered that Gölge was staying at a hotel in Svilengrad.
Gölge was detained by the Turkish police after he was handed over by Bulgarian authorities at the Kapıkule Border Gate in Edirne and taken to İstanbul for questioning.
The bombing, which hit the busy pedestrian İstiklal Street in İstanbul’s popular Taksim neighborhood, claimed the lives of six people and left 81 injured.
“We discussed the issue with [the authorities in] Bulgaria. They delivered him [Gölge] to us in Edirne at around 6 p.m. We thank Bulgaria for its cooperation,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Tuesday.
Hassan allegedly dropped off the perpetrator of the bombing, a woman named Ahlam Albashir, on the day of the attack in İstiklal Street.
As part of an investigation carried out by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s into the bombing, 59 suspects have been taken into custody, 26 of whom including Albashir remain in pre-trial detention.
The Turkish government says Albashir is a Syrian national trained by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community and has waged a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.
However, surprising observers, the PKK and Syrian Kurdish militant group the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) have denied any role, raising questions on social media and elsewhere about the official line.