Turkey arrests German man for trying to join Kurdish militia in Syria | News | DW | 28.03.2018
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Turkey arrests German man for trying to join Kurdish militia in Syria

A German national has been arrested in Turkey for allegedly trying to join the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, Turkish media reported. Turkey alleges he was formerly in the German military, which the Bundeswehr denied.

A German national who was allegedly trying to cross into Syria to join Kurdish militants has been arrested, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Patrick Kraicker, 28, was arrested on March 14 in the Silopi district in southeastern Turkey while trying to cross the border to Syria through a restricted military zone, the report said citing security sources.

A search of his person and belongings found photographs and digital media related to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to the report.

The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization alongside the PKK.

Read more: Germany reluctant to lift travel warning while Turkey keeps state of emergency

After being questioned by regional anti-terrorism authorities, a court detained Kraicker on charges of "aiding and abetting a terrorist organization."

Turkish tanks in Silopi (Reuters/Str)

On the border of Syria and Iraq, Silopi is one of the most heavily militarized areas in Turkey

Local anti-terrorism officials reportedly received a confession from Kraicker that he had served four years in the German military and wanted to join the PYD/YPG. He had reportedly been in Turkey twice before.

Scores of Western volunteers are thought to be fighting alongside the YPG in Syria.  

Bundeswehr denies Kraicker's service

A Bundeswehr spokesperson told DW that Kraicker was never in the German military.

It was unclear if Kraicker was represented by a lawyer during questioning. 

Tens of thousands of Turkish citizens are in prison or on trial under sweeping anti-terror laws. Turkish authorities often make up elaborate charges based on flimsy or fabricated evidence, which is then spread by pro-government media.  

A number of dual German-Turkish nationals have been caught up in the crackdown, raising tensions between Ankara and Berlin. Germany has labeled at least five arrests as politically motivated.   

Read more: After Yücel, Germany looks to others detained in Turkey 

Turkey has long called on the German government to crack down on the PKK and YPG/PYD in Germany. Germany considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but the YPG/PYD is backed by the United States in its fight against the "Islamic State."

The Turkish-Syrian border is separated by the Tigris River near Silopi and there is no official crossing into Syria. It is unclear why Kraicker would choose a heavily militarized area and river crossing to get into Syria.

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