Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

A Turkish soldier is seen in an armoured personnel carrier at a check point near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

  • Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained

SYDNEY: A Turkish court rejected an Australian request to extradite a citizen it believes is a top recruiter for the Daesh group, Australia’s foreign minister said on Friday, in a setback for Canberra’s efforts to prosecute him at home.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Daesh videos and magazines. Australia has alleged that he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of militancy.
“We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision,” she said.
Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained there nearly two years ago.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported from Kilis that Prakash was initially ordered to be freed but was later charged under Turkish law with being a Daesh member.
A spokesman at Turkey’s foreign ministry in Istanbul had no immediate comment and the Turkish embassy in Australia did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a militant group.
Canberra announced financial sanctions against Prakash in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
The Australian government wrongly reported in 2016, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq or Syria.
A staunch ally of the United States and its actions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Australia believes more than 100 of its citizens were fighting in the region.


Mahmoud Abbas hails Fatah university election win

Updated 2 min 13 sec ago
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Mahmoud Abbas hails Fatah university election win

  • ‘It’s a sign that Palestinians are embracing the PLO program for an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital’

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has congratulated pro-Fatah students for winning a series of elections at Birzeit University.

Abbas praised the Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc on the win and for its recent successes in polls at Hebron and in Al-Quds Universities, calling it “a revival of the Fatah movement and a sign that Palestinians are embracing the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s program for an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Student council elections, especially at Birzeit, have often been seen as a barometer of the direction of Palestinian political thinking, and a broad reflection of opinion.

A debate between the student blocs on April 16 had seen competing views aired, with audience responses suggesting little to separate the two largest blocs, aligned with Fatah and Hamas.

In the end, the Fatah students received 4,065 votes and won 23 of the 51 available student council seats, tied with the Hamas list which received 3,997 votes. A university press release noted that the Arafat Bloc would control the council having won the popular vote.

The Fatah list improved its results by 7 percent from last year’s elections, when it lost to the Hamas list by one seat. The left-wing Progressive Students list won five seats, and the dean of student affairs, Mohammad Al-Ahmad, said turnout stood at 78 percent, with 9,041 votes cast in total.

Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a Fatah international media spokesman and active member of its student movement, told Arab News: “The majority in all the universities gave their support to the Fatah youth movement, and this comes at a very important time. The Palestinian leadership needs support.”

“No Palestinian is ready to compromise the main national causes, including a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands and recognizing the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”

Palestinian writer Jawdat Manaa told Arab News that the results come at a badly needed time for the Palestinian people. “Even this slight win for the Fatah students, will strengthen President Abbas.”

Manaa from the Dheisheh camp near Bethlehem who was active during the first intifada told Arab News that “the victory in one of the last bastions of Hamas in the West Bank  is reminiscent of the time in the 1980s when student councils and labor unions were behind the support given to the PLO in the occupied territories.”

Commenting on the elections, Birzeit University President Abdul Latif Abu Hijleh said: “Our students have broken the barriers that suppress the democratic process in Palestine. With historic and responsible young leaders, Birzeit University has been able to maintain the values of democracy and freedom of expression, stressing the importance of maintaining unity in the Palestinian quest for justice and equality.”

“Amid the hardships that Palestine must endure due to political fragmentation and the Israeli occupation, we are required — as an academic institution and part of the Palestinian socio-economic, political and cultural spheres — to approach our basic freedoms and rights boldly and to uphold our academic freedom.”

Hatem Abu Zakari, the head of the Fatah youth movement in Gaza, congratulated all the students and the university administration, calling for “similar democratic practices in all Gaza universities denied this right for 12 years.”