Daesh fighter stuck on Turkey-Greece borders returned to US

A US citizen of Arab descent and Daesh suspect who was deported by Turkey, stands on no-man’s land between Turkey and Greece, as he is pictured from the Pazarkule border crossing near Edirne, Turkey. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

Daesh fighter stuck on Turkey-Greece borders returned to US

  • Minister Suleyman Soylu: The American on the shared border with Greece has just been expelled from Istanbul by plane to the United States
  • The man, identified as Muhammad Darwis B, a US citizen of Jordanian descent, was captured in Syria on suspicion of ties to the Daesh group

ISTANBUL: A suspected US Daesh fighter, trapped for days between the Turkish and Greek borders, was sent back to the United States Friday, Turkey’s interior minister said.
“The American on the shared border with Greece has just been expelled from Istanbul by plane to the United States,” Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by Turkish media.
The man, identified as Muhammad Darwis B, a US citizen of Jordanian descent, was captured in Syria on suspicion of ties to the Daesh group, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Turkish authorities say the US had initially refused to accept him, and that he chose deportation to Greece, only for Greek authorities to refuse him entry on Monday.
He was trapped in no-man’s land between the borders, next to Turkey’s northeastern province of Edirne, though Turkish border guards gave him food and a car to sleep in at night, according to Anadolu.
There was an apparent breakthrough on Thursday, when Turkey said the US “committed to taking him back.”
Turkey has criticized Western countries for not taking back captured members of Daesh, and has lately publicized its efforts to deport extremists back to their countries of origin.
It follows criticism of Turkey’s offensive last month against Kurdish militants in northern Syria, which Western governments complained would undermine the fight against Daesh.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of Daesh in custody, and had captured 287 during the offensive in Syria.
The Hurriyet newspaper said Wednesday that 959 suspects were being prepared for deportation, with the largest numbers coming from Iraq, Syria and Russia.


Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

  • Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown
  • China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage
HONG KONG: Thirteen prominent Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court on Monday charged with holding an unauthorized gathering to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the latest in a string of prosecutions against protest leaders in the restless financial hub.
Last month tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown against students pushing for democracy.
The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds. It has taken on particular significance in recent years as the semi-autonomous city chafes under Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
This year’s vigil was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures. At the time local transmission had largely been halted.
But thousands turned out to hold candles in their neighborhoods and in Victoria Park, the traditional site of the vigil.
Police later arrested 13 leading activists who appeared at the Victoria Park vigil.
All appeared in court on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an unlawful assembly, which carries up to five years in jail.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire owner of the openly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists such as Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho as well as young campaigner Figo Chan.
When asked if he understood the charge, Lee invoked the hundreds who were killed by Chinese tanks and soldiers at Tiananmen.
“This is political persecution,” he said. “The real incitement is the massacre conducted by the Chinese Communist Party 31 years ago.”
Some of those charged on Monday — and many other leading democracy figures — face separate prosecutions related to last year’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage and portrayed the protests as a plot by foreigners to destabilize the motherland.
Earlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law aimed at stamping out the protests once and for all.
The law targets subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion, with sentences including life in prison.
But its broad phrasing — such as a ban on encouraging hatred toward China’s government — has sent fear rippling through a city used to being able to speak its mind.
Police have arrested people for possessing pro-independence or autonomy material, libraries and schools have pulled books, political parties have disbanded and one prominent opposition politician has fled.
The law bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and its contents were kept secret until the moment it was enacted.
It empowered China’s security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, while Beijing has also claimed jurisdiction for some serious national security cases — ending the legal firewall between the mainland the city’s independent judiciary.
China has also announced global jurisdiction to pursue national security crimes committed by anyone outside of Hong Kong and China, including foreigners.