20th December, 2023

Day 5 – Kenan Ayaz: “Resistance is another name for Kurdish survival”

Defense: Criminal trial against Kenan Ayaz in the interests of Turkey
It was already foreseeable, but now it is certain that the arrest of Kenan Ayaz is solely in Turkey’s interests: during his visit to Germany, President Erdoğan praised the local judiciary for the criminal proceedings against the Kurdish activist.
It was already foreseeable, now it is certain. The arrest of Kurdish activist Kenan Ayaz (officially Ayas) in Cyprus following an extradition request from Germany and the 129b trial against him at Hamburg Higher Regional Court are in Turkey’s interests alone. “During his visit to Germany in November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan expressly praised the German judiciary for the proceedings against Kenan Ayas. He was pleased that the Kurdish activist was extradited from Cyprus to Germany at the instigation of the Federal Public Prosecutor General and is now standing trial before the Hamburg Higher Regional Court,” explained Ayaz’s defense team, consisting of Berlin lawyer Antonia von der Behrens, Frankfurt lawyer Stephan Kuhn and their Cypriot colleague Efstathios C. Efstathiou, in a joint statement after the last hearing in the trial on Thursday.
The FAZ summarized Erdoğan’s remarks in an article on 19 November 2023 as follows: “The visit to the German capital ‘opened a new chapter in our deep relations’, said Erdoğan. He expressed his delight at a criminal trial before the Hamburg Higher Regional Court against a suspected functionary of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. The man had been arrested in Cyprus at the instigation of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and extradited to Germany.”
Kenan Ayaz had resisted his extradition to Germany after his arrest in Cyprus last March. “He had justified this by arguing that the German criminal proceedings with the accusation of membership of the PKK were purely politically motivated and that his arrest was solely at the instigation of Turkey. The European arrest warrant against him had only been applied for immediately before the NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022, at which negotiations were to be held with Turkey on the accession of Sweden and Finland. Turkey tried and is trying to prevent Sweden’s accession to NATO in order to obtain 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 arrest warrant and approved the extradition.”
However, the Kurdish activist’s view is now confirmed by Erdoğan’s explicit praise. “This shows the great interest Erdoğan personally has in the criminal proceedings against Ayas,” emphasizes the defence team. Yesterday’s questioning of police officer S. from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) provided further confirmation that the arrest and criminal proceedings against the Kurd are solely in Turkey’s interests. The witness is in charge of the PKK investigations in Germany and also investigated the case against Ayaz. “Despite repeated questions from the court and the defense, he was unable to explain why the arrest warrant had suddenly been applied for by the federal prosecutor’s office before the NATO summit. On the contrary, he stated that the last relevant investigative actions in the criminal proceedings had taken place around two years before the application for the arrest warrant and that it had in fact not been pursued since then.” And: “It was only before the NATO summit that the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office reactivated the proceedings.”
The article from the FAZ “Return to Turkey: Erdoğan calls Scholz the ‘other'” from November 19, 2023 can be found at: https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/rueckkehr-in-die-tuerkei-so-sieht-erdogan-seinen-besuch-in-berlin-19324031.html 

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: