4th September, 2023

A Kurdish intellectual in Cypriot prisons by “Phileleftheros” Newspaper

Kurdish political refugee Kenan Ayas, who was arrested on March 15 at Larnaca airport on the basis of a German arrest warrant on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), will remain in custody until Friday. Ayas, who has been living in Cyprus for ten years, has served a 13-year prison sentence in Turkey and is being targeted by Ankara along with other Kurds or Turks in Europe and other parts of the world.

Yesterday’s proceedings at the Larnaca District Court were procedural in nature and concerned the approval of legal aid for the 48-year-old Kurd, based, of course, on a report from the Welfare Office, which was summoned on the spot and at the last minute to study Kenan Ayas’ request. District Judge Michael Papathanasiou approved the request of the Prosecution and its representative, Vassilis Bisa, for further detention of the Kurdish fighter until Friday.

Bissas told the court that the documents of the German authorities were translated into Turkish, while both he and Kenan Ayas’ lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, said they would call four or five witnesses. The President of the Court said that a decision should be issued within 35 days from the day of the arrest of the wanted man, Kenan Ayas.

He was also given a deadline to give his views on the extradition procedure in Germany. By Friday, his defence lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, will have to gain access to the file of Kenan Ayas, which was at the Asylum Service, transferred to the Legal Service and remains unknown where it is at the moment. On the basis of new information, Mr Efstathiou will raise a new objection to the request for his further detention.

A demonstration of support for Kenan Agias was held yesterday outside the Larnaca District Court. A group of Kurdish and Cypriot solidarity activists gathered during the proceedings, carrying Kurdish flags and flags with the face of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. It should be noted that 21 March is a major holiday for the Kurds, that of Nevroz. It is the day when the Kurds and other Mesopotamian peoples celebrate the vernal equinox. For the Kurds, in particular, it is both a national holiday and New Year’s Day.

Who is Kenan Ayas

The 48-year-old Kurd, who remains unjustly detained in prison, has been very active politically in both Germany and Cyprus since fleeing dictatorial Turkey. There is no presumption of a criminal offence against him, unless the Cypriot judiciary considers the fight for Kurdish freedom to be terrorism. His speeches have been published in major publications, with one of them announced in Hamburg in April 2015. The Kurdish researcher and activist then participated in an international conference, where he gave a speech entitled “Capitalism – Accumulation of Power or Value?”.

The court will also hear an intervention by Ayas on the Kurdish channel Medya Haber on the crisis of power of the AKP-MHP in Turkey. With references to the massacre of Armenians, Assyrians and Kurds, Kenan Ayas unfolds, in that intervention, the situation in Turkey, especially against his own people. According to the Kurdistan Cultural Centre “Theophilos”, Kenan Ayas is a Kurdish fighter who did not do anything in Cyprus other than what the Kurdish exiles are doing in every corner of the world. Participating in events, political or cultural, speaking and insisting on the freedom of Kurdistan.

Today, the defense filed a motion on behalf of Kenan Ayas to dismiss the panel of three judges because they showed bias against Kenan Ayas.


The defense had no choice but to make this extraordinary request because the court showed bias against Kenan Ayas by rejecting the defense’s request. The defense had requested that the newspaper article quoting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement about Kenan Ayas’ trial be considered as evidence and read in court.


The well-known German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had summarized Erdoğan’s remarks in an article published on November 19 as follows: “The visit to the German capital had ‘opened a new chapter in our deep relations,’ Erdoğan said. He expressed his delight at a criminal trial at the Hamburg Higher Regional Court against an alleged official of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. The man was arrested in Cyprus and extradited to Germany on the initiative of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.” (See the press release of the defense from November 30, 2023).


The court rejected the request for the second time, arguing that Erdoğan’s statement had no relation to the case of Kenan Ayas. It was the second time that the defense had asked the court to allow this article to be part of the evidence. The defense had argued that Erdoğan’s statements showed that the extradition and trial of Kenan Ayas was in the interest of Turkey and that Kenan Ayas could be in danger after his release from prison because of the known habit of the Turkish secret service to operate outside of Turkey. In regard to both motions, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not oppose the request but supported it by stating that there was an obvious connection between the article and the trial.


Despite the statement of the prosecution, the judges showed their determination not to deal with the Turkish influence on the trial. The judges have continuously tried to keep anything out of the trial that could indicate the political nature of the extradition request for Kenan Ayas and the charges against him.


Now another chamber of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court hast to decide on the motion to dismiss the judges. Until this decision is made, the trial will continue as scheduled.



Hamburg/Frankfurt/Nicosia, February 6, 2024



Attorney Antonia von der Behrens, Berlin

Attorney Stephan Kuhn, Frankfurt am Main

Attorney Efstathios C. Efstathiou, Nicosia, Cyprus


The FAZ article “Return to Turkey: Erdoğan calls Scholz the ‘other'” from November 19, 2023 can be found here: