The Turkish Justice Ministry said in a statement that Mehmet İltaş and Mehmet Eşref Kızılay, both members of the PKK, were jailed upon their arrival from Germany. Reports in newspapers including Today's Zaman yesterday said the extradition signaled that Turkey's diplomatic efforts to isolate the PKK internationally were bearing fruit.
The Justice Ministry confirmed the reports, saying "intensified efforts and diplomatic undertakings" to get back PKK members who have fled Turkey after staging attacks have "started bearing positive results." Both İltaş and Kızılay had been sought by Interpol. Turkey is hunting more than 170 other PKK members internationally.
The ministry said Germany had handed over İltaş, wanted for attacks on a police station and a minibus in 1991 in which eight people were killed, two months ago. The statement did not give a reason for the ministry not announcing the extradition earlier.
Kızılay, accused of killing a policeman in 1991, was handed over to Turkey last Friday, the ministry said. Germany had first detained Kızılay in 1998 but did not extradite him because Turkey at that time still had the death penalty. The chief public prosecutor in Diyarbakır, Durdu Kavak, told reporters that İltaş was being held in a Diyarbakır prison while Kızılay was in Ankara. He said Kızılay could also be transferred to Diyarbakır later on but added that this decision was up to the Justice Ministry.
Responding to questions concerning the issue, German Ambassador to Turkey Eckart Cuntz declined to comment in detail on the extradition of the pair. "There is tight cooperation between the security organizations of the two countries. Our organizations are working together in the struggle against fundamentalist and separatist terrorist organizations. A few weeks ago a member of a fundamentalist organization was captured in Turkey. He is now being kept in Konya. We have asked Turkey for extradition of this fundamentalist organization member who has been held under arrest in Konya. This request is now being examined by Turkish authorities," Cuntz said.
German citizen Atilla S., 22, who was wanted by the Turkish Police Department's Interpol-Sirene Department on charges of joining al-Qaeda and participating in bomb making, was captured in Konya on Nov. 7.
The PKK is on a European Union list of terrorist organizations, but there have been only a few visible steps in European countries to stop its activities. Ankara accuses certain EU member states of turning a blind eye to the PKK's fundraising and propaganda activities.