ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities on Wednesday sentenced two Czech nationals for their alleged membership to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Turkey accused Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova of belonging to the YPG.
The two Czech nationals were arrested on Nov. 13, 2016, in the Sirnak Province where they were attempting to cross Turkey’s border into Iraq.
Farkas and Vselichova were handed a prison sentence of six years and three months for “delivering arms” and “coordinating the arrival of new [foreign] volunteers” to the YPG.
According to information from Turkish security forces, Farkas was reportedly a sniper while Vselichova provided logistical, health, and additional personnel to the YPG.
In a court statement, the accused insisted they were humanitarian workers who had hoped “to build a field hospital” near the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Although the United States is backing an offensive against IS in Syria’s Raqqa, spearheaded by the Kurdish forces, Ankara views the YPG a “terrorist” group.
Turkey has linked the Kurdish group to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who are waging a decades-long resistance against the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights.
Officials from the Czech Republic denied the two nationals had anything to do with terrorism, according to the Associated Press.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said his ministry would “do all it can to ensure their appeal will be dealt with properly.”
Lubomir also mentioned he was “disappointed” a Turkish court had sentenced the two Czech nationals to “stiff prison terms” for belonging to the YPG.
Editing by G.H. Renaud