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Protesters Demand Release Of Syrian Kurd Leader Detained In Prague

Protesters demonstrate in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague on February 26.
Protesters demonstrate in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague on February 26.

Around 200 people have staged protests in the Czech capital to demand the release of a Syrian Kurdish leader who was detained in Prague at the request of Turkey.

Salih Muslim, the former co-head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Syrian Kurdish political party, was detained in Prague on February 24 based on an Interpol notice from Turkey.

At least two demonstrations were held in Prague on February 26, including outside the Interior and Justice ministry buildings and on Wenceslas Square in the city center.

Ankara said on February 26 that it had submitted documents to the Czech authorities formally requesting the extradition of Muslim.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Muslim would appear before a Prague court later on February 26.

But Qusai Shekho, a Germany-based Syrian Kurdish activist speaking from Prague, told RFE/RL that no court hearing took place because "the judges had not received any file or any request from the Czech police."

Shekho said Muslim would be freed if no files were submitted by the police by 11:00 p.m. (2200 GMT/UTC).

The PYD accused Ankara of "demanding the arrest of individuals who are not its citizens...without any legal justifications."

Turkey has been seeking Muslim after a Turkish court charged him with "breaking the state and country's unity" and other offenses.

The PYD, which Turkey considers a "terrorist group," is the main Kurdish political force in the north of Syria. Muslim stepped down as its co-chair last year but remains influential.

Based on reporting by dpa and Czech Radio Plus