A local court in Serbia issued an extradition order for the third time against Kurdish political activist Ecevit Piroğlu, who was detained and arrested in Serbia on 25 June 2021 after Turkey demanded his extradition.
The extradition decision, which had been overturned twice before by the Serbian appeals court, was decided for the third time by the local court on Thursday without a hearing. While the local court insisted on its decision and ruled for Piroğlu’s extradition, Piroğlu’s lawyers will appeal the case again.
Piroğlu’s legal status has been a hot-button issue for both Turkey and Serbia recently.
Piroğlu has been a leftist activist since 1992 and was chairman of the İzmir branch of the prominent Human Rights Association (İHD). He was arrested several times over his activism, and in 2018, ultimately left Turkey for Serbia, following charges of terrorism due to his participation in the massive nationwide anti-government protests of 2013, dubbed the Gezi Park protests. At the height of Syrian Kurds’ fight against jihadist forces, Piroğlu travelled to northern Syria to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Serbian police arrested the activist on 25 June 2021 in Belgrade, and he has been in custody since. His appeal for asylum was rejected. Turkish authorities have been pressuring Serbian authorities to extradite Piroğlu.
Amnesty International recently urged Serbia to grant Piroğlu asylum because he would be at risk of serious human rights violations upon his return, including torture and arbitrary detention.