June 4, 2020 / 10:30 AM / a month ago

Swiss court blocks extradition of alleged PKK functionary to Germany

ZURICH (Reuters) - A Swiss court blocked the extradition to Germany of an alleged regional leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), ruling that German authorities had not made enough of a case against the man whose group is not banned in Switzerland.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The man, a Turkish citizen whose identity was not revealed in the Federal Criminal Court verdict released on Thursday, had fought extradition since his arrest at Zurich airport last November on an international warrant.

Because the PKK is not outlawed in Switzerland, the court examined whether he would have faced similar Swiss charges for his actions, which allegedly included spreading propaganda and recruiting fighters in 2014.

It found a lack of evidence that he supported a criminal organisation, the equivalent Swiss crime that would have justified sending him to Germany to face trial.

If he was recruiting fighters, the court said, it was likely that they were to fight Islamic State jihadists in Kurdish areas of Syria or Iraq rather than to attack Turkish targets.

It ordered the man released from custody and awarded him 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,000) in compensation.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Giles Elgood

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