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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.

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.

A hearing to decide on Muslim's further detention or release was scheduled at the Municipal Court in Prague for February 27.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Tereza Schejbalova said the Czech authorities had yet to receive the formal extradition request and it could take several more days.

Kurdish supporters of Muslim are planning to demonstrate outside the court, according to Ahmed Ismail, a former head of the Kurdish Association in the Czech Republic who said he is assisting in Muslim's legal defense.

Muslim's PYD party 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, AFP, Czech Radio Plus, and RFE/RL's Petr Kubalek