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Turkey asks Sweden to detain Syrian Kurdish leader

Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) former leader Saleh Muslim

Turkey has asked Sweden to arrest Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim, Turkish media reported on Thursday – Ankara’s third attempt to get a European state to detain and extradite him in just over a week.

Turkey says Muslim is linked to two bombings that killed dozens in its capital – a charge he denies. Muslim formerly headed the PYD, Syria’s main Kurdish party, a group that Turkey sees as a terrorist organisation.

A Swedish source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Muslim had been in Stockholm but had already left the country. Sweden’s foreign ministry said it could not comment on his whereabouts.

Muslim was detained in Prague at Turkey’s request last week but later released by a court. Ankara also asked Germany to arrest him on Friday, leading German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to promise to review the request on constitutional grounds.

There was no immediate comment from Muslim, or any details on his current location. He has said he will remain in European Union territory and cooperate in any further proceedings.

Ankara launched a military operation inside Syria six weeks ago to sweep Kurdish YPG fighters from its southern border.

Relations between Turkey and Europe have soured in the aftermath of a 2016 failed coup, as President Tayyip Erdogan has overseen a sweeping crackdown. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs, and more than 50,000 detained. Turkey says the measures are necessary for its security.

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