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article imageTurkey says Syrian Kurd's case 'day of reckoning' for Prague

By AFP     Feb 27, 2018 in World

Turkey on Tuesday said the case of detained Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim was a "day of reckoning" for the Czech Republic, pressing its NATO ally Prague to extradite him to face a terror trial.

Czech authorities at the weekend detained Muslim, the former leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and still a figurehead for Kurds in Syria, at the request of Ankara.

The arrest came as Turkey presses an over month-long operation inside Syria aimed at dislodging the People's Protection Units (YPG) -- the military wing of the PYD -- from the Afrin region of the country's north.

"This is the day of reckoning for our NATO ally the Czech Republic," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told ruling party MPs. "We hope our ally will show the necessary solidarity and extradite this terrorist."

He added: "Whatever happens, one thing is certain. Terror chiefs can no longer wander about as they wish."

Muslim is due to appear before a Prague court on Tuesday to decide whether to remand him in custody. If he is jailed, then the process of considering Turkey's extradition request can begin.

- Swap for Czech nationals? -

There have been questions over why the Czech authorities at the weekend acted on the Turkish warrant against Muslim, who is wanted over a 2016 bombing in Ankara and faces 30 life sentences if convicted.

Until now, he had been able to move around the EU without problem. He denies the charges.

Press reports in Turkey and the Czech Republic have speculated over the possibility of exchanging Muslim for two Czech nationals jailed in Turkey on charges of fighting for the YPG in Syria.

Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova were sentenced last year to six years and three months behind bars and are currently held in the eastern Turkish region of Van.

But Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul denied any exchange was in the offing, saying "there is no question of a swap request".

Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky late Monday also denied there was any link, saying: "In our country, the rules are clear. We are a state of law."

Ankara sees the YPG and PYD as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which for over three decades has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state and is banned by Turkey, the US and the European Union as a terror group.

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