Turkey today demanded the extradition of Saleh Muslim, a leading Kurdish politician and representative of Syria's Kurdish minority, who was arrested yesterday at Ankara's request to the Czech Republic.
Saleh Muslim, who has been described by Ankara as a "leader of a terrorist organization", was arrested yesterday in a hotel in Prague, according to a statement from the Czech and Turkish authorities.
"We hope that the Czech Republic will extradite him to Turkey," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in front of a crowd in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa.
The Turkish Justice Minister said in a statement that "proceedings have begun for his extradition to Turkey", where, if tried, he could face up to 30 life sentences, while Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag stressed that both Turkey and and the Czech Republic have signed the European Convention on Extradition.
Muslim was formerly co-chair of the PYD (Democratic Unity Party), the main component of the TEV-DEM coalition, which rules Kurdish-controlled autonomous parts of northern Syria, including Afrin.
Ankara considers the PYD and the YPG militia an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed struggle on Turkish soil for decades - although Kurdish organizations insist they are independent.
Turkey has issued a warrant for the arrest of Muslim since November 2016 in connection with an attack in Ankara in February 2016 (29 dead), in which Muslim denies any involvement.
The Syrian Kurdish political party announced today that one of its leaders was arrested in Prague on the orders of Turkey, where a court has accused him of separatist activity.
Saleh Muslim, a leading Kurdish politician, has "full rights as a Syrian citizen" and
was visiting Europe on an official visit, the PYD party announced.
In a statement, the party accused the Turkish state of "requesting the arrest of non-citizens without any legal justification".
Turkey launched a military offensive last month in Syria's Afrin region against the PYD-affiliated Kurdish militia YPG, which Ankara considers a threat to its borders.