I had the opportunity to be on the same discussion program on TRT World with Peter Woodard Galbraith recently. The subject was a Czech court's decision to release Salih Muslum despite Turkey's extradition request.
The other guests of award-winning journalist Imran Garda on The Newsmakers (TRT World's flagship current affairs program) were Nick Vamos, former head of extradition at the U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service, and political analyst Onur Erim.
Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat, author, academic, commentator, politician and a policy adviser to the Iraqi Kurds, uttered such outrageous views about Turkey, how right the Czech court was for releasing a terrorist that I had to respond to him on the program. Galbraith is the long-time champion of the idea of dismembering Iraq and creating an independent Kurdistan. Now one can see that Syrian Kurds have also become an area of concern for Galbraith.Salih Muslum is the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the driving power behind the de facto autonomous Kurdish-controlled region of Rojava in Northern Syria. He is also the most prominent member of the executive board of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella organization of the PKK, the PYD and the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) in Iran. They do not have a branch office in Iraq because of the rivalry of the Barzani clan. To read more on their structural organization please see Şeyma Nazlı Gürbüz's article published in Daily Sabah on Feb. 26, 2018.
Muslum has been on the most wanted list of the Turkish police for a long time and the Turkish authorities renewed their arrest warrant issued to Interpol after the evidence showed that the terrorist suspected of bombing an Ankara tax office earlier last month received training in a YPG-held area in Syria. Muslum was captured in Prague last week because of Turkey's arrest warrant. Turkey, providing a detailed dossier on Muslum's relationship with both the PYD and the PKK, immediately requested his extradition. Although recognized as a terrorist organization by not only Turkey but also the U.S. and the U.K., apparently the Czech court had not deemed these documents worthy of anything and released the man.
Answering the question as to why the Czech court had not heeded Turkey's request of extradition despite the seriousness of the charges, Galbraith voiced two opinions: Firstly, since the staged coup on July 15, 2016 in Turkey, the police made such mass arrests and courts imposed on them such heavy penalties that the Turkish judicial system is no longer taken seriously in Europe, and secondly, Turkish politicians' statements about the accused showed that he could not receive a fair trial in Turkey.
Anybody who attended a Basic Law 101 course in school would know that no one can be found guilty of a crime that was not a crime under the law at the time it was committed. That is the prohibition on retrospective criminalization. Now a self-respecting diplomat, author, academic, commentator, politician and policy adviser should show us that those found guilty of a coup attempt received heavier penalties than was applicable before July 15. Has anybody received a penalty that was not on the books?
Yes, sometimes books are thrown at those putschists. And, yes, the president, the ministers and a man on the street might just as well deliver passionate speeches about the perpetrators of the massacres committed on that fateful night. We still feel betrayed by those people who snuck into the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the judiciary, school boards, and universities en masse and under our noses.
These feelings have no connection or influence on the courts. If Galbraith and his ilk claim so, they need to prove it. While they are at it, they should keep in mind that neither former President George W. Bush nor former Prime Minister Tony Blair were no less passionate about Osama bin Laden in their speeches after 9/11, and nobody suspected the U.S. courts' verdicts because of those speeches.