Czech police escort PYD founder Salih Muslim to court in Prague on February 27, 2018. Photo: Petr Hornik | Novinky
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A court in Prague ruled on Tuesday that Salih Muslim is free to leave jail, but must wait for extradition proceedings.
Muslim's lawyer said that his release was conditional on him participating in follow-up extradition proceedings, Czech state media reported.
The prosecutor's office in Prague argued that Muslim should remain in custody until the extradition hearing. His lawyer has said Muslim will cooperate with extradition proceedings, AFP reported.
Czech police detained Muslim on Saturday because of being wanted by Ankara.
Turkish officials have slammed the judge’s decision to release Muslim.
“This decision is very clearly a decision in support of terrorism,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters in Ankara, adding that it will “negatively impact” relations between the two countries.
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said Turkey would not accept the decision, which he described as a “mistake” and not in line with international law.
The country's foreign ministry said the decision to release Muslim from detention shows the insincerity of European nations, Anadolu Agency reported.
Czech Republic's Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky told state media prior to the initial ruling that "We have clear rules in our country."
"We have the rule of law and the court decides," added Stropnicky, explaining that their Ministry of Justice will decide Muslim's fate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's ministries of foreign affairs and justice were following the situation "step by step," according to Turkey's Anadolu Agency.
Earlier this month, Turkey announced a $1 million bounty for the former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling Kurdish party in Rojava, northern Syria, and added him to the Interior Ministry’s ‘Red List.’
Ankara alleges that the PYD is a Syrian branch of the PKK, a named terror group. The PYD is not a named terrorist organization in the European Union, and its member countries have previously rejected such extradition requests.
The PYD, which advocates the ideology of PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, has maintained that it is a distinct organization.
Salih, a 67-year-old native of Kobane, founded the PYD in 2003 and served as co-chair of the party form 2013 to 2017, when he stepped down.
He has been a harsh critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Saturday, he had tweeted images of children reportedly killed in Turkey’s operation in Afrin and captioned it “Turkey president – child killer.”
Turkey’s ‘Red List’ is commonly called the ‘terror list.’
Updated at 4:58 pm