Free Man: Saleh Muslim Praises Court For Not Succumbing To Political Pressure

Prague, Feb 27 (CTK) – Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim considers his release a decision by an independent Czech court that does not succumb to political pressures, he told CTK at a meeting with reporters today.


The Prague Municipal Court released Muslim, 67, who was detained on the basis of an international warrant of arrest in Prague on Saturday and whose extradition Turkey seeks, from prison today. The verdict took effect since both parties gave up the right to a complaint.


Muslim dismissed the criticism by Turkey, which called the decision not to remand him in custody political and said this meant support for a terrorist organisation.


Muslim, for his part, said this was a legal and not political decision.


It is, on the contrary, Turkey that is making political decisions on him, he stressed.


He also said that the Turkish government was attempting to silence him since he was pointing to the killing of Kurdish civilians in Syria.


He was invited to Prague to attend a three-day conference by Czech ambassadors and ambassadors of other countries, he said without elaborating.


The police detained him at the very end of the conference at the Marriott Hotel in Prague centre. He decribed his arrest as calm and professional.


The Czech police officers did not question him and they behaved professionally the whole time, he added.


The judge accepted Muslim’s promise that he would take part in all stages of the subsequent proceedings and would only stay in the EU countries.


He has not decided yet where he will go from the Czech Republic.


Until last year, Muslim was in the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the driving Kurdish political force in northern Syria. Turkey says the PYD is a part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it denotes as a terrorist organisation.


The Turkish authorities connect Muslim with a bomb attack in Ankara in March 2017, which they say was masterminded by the PKK. A previous arrest warrant from 2016 linked him to another bomb attack in which 29 people died and another 87 were injured.


Muslim denies having been involved in these acts, saying he was in Europe then.


He is a politician focusing on the situation in Northern Syria and not on Turkish internal affairs, he said.


He also said he would not consider a warrant of arrest issued by the Supreme Court in Ankara important. He reminded of other people, listed as the most wanted terrorists by Ankara, staying in Europe without problems.


He refused to speculate about the reasons why he was arrested in Prague after having publicly performed in Germany and Belgium.


He did not complain about his stay in a police cell. The Czech police were just doing their work, he said.


Muslim said he did not intend to seek asylum elsewhere in Europe.


His defence lawyer Miroslav Krutina said his client would probably keep travelling round Europe to be able to do his political work.


Muslim said he would like to keep his promise and continue with his peacekeeping diplomacy in Europe.


He did not specify how he would take part in possible further legal proceedings, but mentioned a video-conference as an option. If need be, he would arrive personally, he added.


The case is at the very beginning since the deadline in which Turkey must ask the Czech Republic for his extradition starts running, Krutina said, adding that he would wait for documents to be sent by Turkey in the case.


It must be examined first whether the issued warrant for Muslim’s arrest is in harmony with law, he said.