The Republic of Cyprus will extradite Kenan Ayaz, a Kurdish activist arrested on terrorism charges, to Germany after the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his appeal on Tuesday, May 16.
The 49-year-old activist was prosecuted on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation, namely, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Today, the Supreme Court rejected the defence’s position claiming there is no presumption of criminality against Ayaz and accepted documents provided by German authorities which prove his membership in the PKK.
The left-wing guerilla movement is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, the EU and a number of other countries.
Historically, the Republic of Cyprus had strong relations with Kurdistan, as both see themselves as victims of Turkish aggression.
The decision to extradite Ayaz infuriated members of the public who gathered outside the Supreme Court in Nicosia in support of the 49-year-old.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, police arrested three protesters, including Ayaz’s brother. When asked by Phileleftheros why the protesters were arrested, officers responded that the three had caused a disturbance during a previous court hearing for Ayaz.
They also said that they had orders from the President of the Supreme Court to tighten security in anticipation of the trial’s outcome.
Ayaz, 49, was granted asylum in Cyprus as a political refugee and has lived on the island since 2013.
On May 4, he went on a hunger strike following the initial decision by Larnaca District Court to extradite him to Germany, fearing that another extradition to Turkey will follow where he may be tortured or killed.
Activists from Cyprus and Kurdistan joined him in protest and camped outside the Supreme Court building in Nicosia for days.
Ayaz’s extradition is seen by some as a move by the Cypriot government to soften up to the West in a bid to improve its relationship with Turkey.
Turkey has asked Nato countries to extradite persons it classifies as terrorists (often Kurdish opponents) in exchange for greenlighting the ascendance of Finland and Sweden into the military alliance.
Since 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given Germany a list of almost 4,000 names his administration considers Kurdish terrorists.
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