Luxembourg court deals heavy financial blow to PKK

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 28.09.2017 16:27
Updated 28.09.2017 17:40

A court in Luxembourg upheld a verdict for freezing the assets of a company linked to the PKK terrorist organization, rejecting appeals from the owners of Roj NV, a parent company of eponymous TV channels known for spreading pro-PKK propaganda, for the freezing of $10 million. The lawyers of Rıza Erdoğan, Haydar Ağbaba and Haluk Sayan formerly requested that the court reverse its decision to freeze the assets, citing a ruling by a Belgian court that did not describe the PKK as a terrorist organization and amid "the changing circumstances in Turkey."

Despite being widely tolerated across Europe, the assets of the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Turkey and the EU, were frozen as the result of a court order in 2009. Luxembourg prosecutors requested that the court uphold its decision to freeze the assets, citing Erdoğan and Ağbaba's 10-year sentence in absentia in Turkey for being members of a terrorist group as well as Sayan's visits to northern Iraq where she joined the PKK. The prosecutor said that "legal developments" in Turkey reveal that the verdict was sufficient, hence the decision not to reverse the decision to freeze the assets.

In 2014, Denmark cancelled Roj TV's license, dealing a major blow to the channel that was founded in 2004 and the subject of Ankara's repeated calls to Copenhagen for its closure, due to its PKK links.

The PKK resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015, unilaterally violating a cease-fire agreement. The organization rose to prominence in the early 1980s in southeastern Turkey, which has a large ethnic Kurdish population. The PKK is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and launching a violent campaign for Kurdish self-rule. Since the end of the "truce" in 2015, the PKK has killed hundreds of civilians and security personnel in eastern and southeastern Turkey. Ankara is conducting counterterror operations in these regions daily amid efforts to eradicate terrorism, and Turkish authorities say the group "is nearing its end." The leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, is in a prison on a Turkish island but his aides continue to run the group from a mountainous area in northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains.

A July report by Germany's domestic intelligence service says the PKK is collecting 25 million euros ($28 million) annually in donations from across Europe. The intelligence service's annual report said the terrorist group has nearly 14,000 followers in Germany and recently increased its recruitment activities, sending dozens to camps in northern Iraq.

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