Kurdish activist Kenan Ayas, who had sought asylum in Cyprus more than a decade ago, was extradited to Germany after a long legal battle and has been put behind bars to await trial.
The decision was politically motivated, Ayas said, and served the interests of “the Erdoğan regime”.
Ayas was flown to Karlsruhe on 2 June, despite a medical report stating he was not fit to fly due to health issues caused by his two-week hunger strike. The activist was taken to a prison in Hamburg after facing a judge.
Ayas will face trial in Germany under the infamous Article 129b of the German Penal Code, which has seen several dozen Kurdish politicians face charges of affiliation with terrorist organisations outside of Germany in recent years.
The activist is accused of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist organisation in the European Union, and working for the PKK between 2018 and 2020. However, there are various rulings in European courts that state the PKK is not a terrorist organisation but one of the fighting sides in an ongoing conflict. European and Kurdish activists have been calling for the delisting of the PKK for years, as they believe the categorisation allows a systemic criminalisation of Kurdish individuals and organisations.
The current case is part of a broader trend of Germany requesting extradition for Kurdish activists and politicians, leading to concerns over Turkish influence on the German politics and judiciary and possible repercussions for Kurdish activists in Europe.
While the Cypriot appeals court’s lead judge said in a hearing on 9 May that they did not consider the PKK to be a terrorist organisation, an official from the Cypriot Justice Ministry told reporters two days before the ruling that they believed the lower court’s decision to extradite Ayas had been correct.