Erdoğan praises German judiciary for criminal charges against Kurdish activist Kenan Ayas
During his visit to Germany, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explicitly praised the German judiciary for the trial of Kenan Ayas. He expressed his pleasure that the Kurdish activist was extradited from Cyprus to Germany on the initiative of the Federal Public Prosecutor and is now standing trial at the Hamburg Higher Regional Court.
The well-known German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) summarized Erdoğan’s remarks in an article on November 19, 2023 as follows: “The visit to the German capital has ‘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 had been arrested in Cyprus and extradited to Germany at the instigation of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Kenan Ayas had resisted extradition to Germany after his arrest in Cyprus in March 2023. He had argued that the German criminal case alleging his membership in the PKK was politically motivated and that his arrest was only on the instigation of Turkey. The European arrest warrant against him was issued just before the NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022, where negotiations with Turkey on the accession of Sweden and Finland were to take place. Turkey has tried and is trying to prevent Sweden from joining NATO in order to get concessions on the persecution of Kurds in Europe. The Cypriot judges, on the other hand, could not imagine that political motives played a role in the German criminal probe and approved the extradition.
However, Kenan Ayas’ view is now confirmed by Erdogan’s explicit praise. This shows the great interest that Erdoğan personally has in the criminal case against Kenan Ayas.
Today’s interrogation of the witness and police officer Sch. from the German Federal Criminal Police Office also confirms that the arrest and the criminal proceedings against Kenan Ayas are only motivated by the interest of Turkey. The witness is in charge of the PKK investigation in Germany and also investigated the case against Kenan Ayas. Despite repeated questions by the court and the defense, he could not explain why the arrest warrant was applied for by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office before the NATO summit. On the contrary, he stated that the last relevant investigative activities in the criminal probe had taken place about two years before the application for the arrest warrant was filed, and that the proceedings had effectively been discontinued since then. It was not until the NATO summit that the Federal Prosecutor’s Office reactivated the case.
Hamburg, December 1, 2023
Attorney at Law Antonia von der Behrens, Berlin
Attorney Stephan Kuhn, Frankfurt am Main
Attorney Efstathios C. Efstathiou, Nicosia, Cyprus