A German man has been detained in Bulgaria after Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant. According to German media, a court in Turkey had sentenced him years ago for being a member of the PKK terror group.
German citizen Mehmet Y. was detained in the Bulgarian city of Varna late on Tuesday at the behest of the Turkish government.
The German Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest and said the embassy in Sofia was providing the man with consular service.
German media, citing the record of his arrest, reported that Mehmet Y. had been convicted several years earlier by a Turkish court in Adana for being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey and several other Western nations consider a terrorist group.
Mehmet Y. managed to flee Turkey for Germany to avoid being jailed. He was granted asylum in 2001 before becoming a naturalized German citizen in 2009. Prior to his arrest in Bulgaria, he had been living in the city of Bonn, where he reportedly counseled refugees.
However, Mehmet Y. still holds a Turkish passport, meaning he could be extradited to Turkey, according to his lawyer.
Bulgaria has in the past extradited Turks facing charges back in their homeland of PKK membership or ties to the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the failed coup attempt of 2016.
Mehmet Y's case closely reflects that of German-Turkish writer Dogan Akhanli, who was detained while on vacation in Spain last year after Turkey issued a warrant for his arrest through Interpol. The Cologne-based author was held for two months by Spanish authorities before the Justice Ministry in Madrid ultimately dropped the extradition proceedings.
Around 35 German nationals are believed to have been detained in Turkey as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's sweeping crackdown on dissent and press freedom. High-profile figures such as journalists Deniz Yücel and Mesale Tolu have been released but still face charges of supporting terrorist groups.
Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.
dm/sms (dpa, AFP)