ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish appeals court on Monday upheld the sentencing of two Czech nationals to six years and three months in prison for membership in the US-backed Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Turkish police arrested the Czechs, Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova, in November 2016 in the Kurdish Sirnak Province where they intended to enter the Kurdistan Region via the border crossing there.
Ankara says the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), armed and trained by the United States, is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), thus a “terrorist” group.
Prague and Washington do not agree with Turkey’s designation of the YPG as a terrorist organization.
The duo’s sentences were handed down in August over charges of involvement in terrorism.
A spokesperson for the Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry, Michaela Lagronova, told the state news agency CTK that her two compatriots’ lawyers filed a petition for appellate review with the Turkish Supreme Court in late November.
“The appeals court has upheld the lower-level court’s verdict. Both convicts can file a petition for appellate review, which their defense counsels have already done,” Lagronova said.
Turkish authorities hold Vselichova and Farkas in prison in the Kurdish Van Province on the border with Iran.
A diplomat from Czech Republic’s embassy in Ankara has visited them, state media said.
For a possible extradition of the two Czechs by Turkey, Prague would have to accept the verdict saying that they assisted in terrorist activities, Czech Television (CT) reported.
However, it was unlikely for Prague to recognize the Turkish verdict because it would violate the Czech Constitution.
“In our country, it is hard to imprison someone for something that is not considered a crime here,” Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said in August.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany