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Misztal on Arrest of Syrian Kurdish Leader in Prague

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from Blaise Misztal, director of national security at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on the arrest of a Syrian Kurdish leader in the Czech Republic yesterday:

“Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim was detained by Czech police in Prague yesterday following an extradition request from the Turkish government. Muslim is the former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish political organization currently cooperating with the United States in the fight against ISIS and at war with Turkey in the Syrian province of Afrin as well. Muslim was in Prague, where his movement opened an unofficial political office several years ago, to attend an international conference. His arrest, under Turkish pressure, therefore risks embarrassing the Czech government while his likely release will in turn generate angry denunciation from Ankara. In short, whatever ultimately happens to Muslim, the incident underscores the extent to which Turkey’s escalating Kurdish conflict has become an obstacle in its relations with the United States and Europe.

“Washington, for its part, should encourage the Czech government to resolve Turkey’s extradition request in accordance with the rule of law. In recent years, the Turkish government has become increasingly bold in using extradition requests and other international legal mechanisms to pursue political opponents abroad. Giving in to these efforts will only facilitate more aggressive demands in the future and provide Western sanction to the erosion of the rule of law in Turkey.”