ISTAMBUL – Turkey requested the Czech Republic on Monday to extradite a top former political leader of the Kurdish-Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) militias who was recently arrested in Prague, according to a Turkish government spokesperson.
Bekir Bozdag confirmed Ankara had asked Prague for the extradition of Salih Muslim Muhammad, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the YPG’s political wing – which is considered the main driving power behind the self-proclaimed autonomous Kurdish-controlled region of Rojava in northern Syria.
“We are seeking Muslim’s extradition,” Bozdag said during an interview with Turkey’s NTV channel, adding that the Kurdish leader would appear later on Monday at a Czech court, which would decide on the next course of action.
Ankara considers the YPG as a terror group due to its links with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), despite the YPG’s alliance with the United States-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State terror organization in Syria.
“Turkey requests, in its fight against terrorist organizations, that Salih Muslim is handed over as a ringleader of terrorist actions against Turkey,” Bozdag said.
On Sunday, Czech police confirmed the arrest in Prague of a 67-year-old foreigner – an age that coincides with Muslim’s – who had a pending Interpol international arrest warrant issued by Ankara, although they have yet to officially reveal the detainee’s name.
In 2013 and 2014, Muslim led talks in Ankara with the Turkish government, but in November 2016, Turkey requested Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against him based on an accusation linking Muslim with a bomb attack in Ankara in February 2016, attributed to the outlawed PKK.