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Cablegate: Terrorist Extradition Roundtable in Istanbul

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #1306/01 2041442
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221442Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6908
INFO RUEAWJB/DOJ WASHDC
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 1700
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6740
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 5446
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 0274
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 1285
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 0443
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3252
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0380
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 4282
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS ANKARA 001306

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DOJ/DAAG SWARTZ, OPDAT/ALEXANDRE, OIA/WARLOW

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TERRORIST EXTRADITION ROUNDTABLE IN ISTANBUL

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Top terrorism prosecutors and judges from
Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iraq, Netherlands, Spain
and Switzerland met in Istanbul, Turkey June 24-26, 2008 to discuss
their respective practices and overcome obstacles in extraditing
terrorists. The meeting, co-hosted by DOJ and Turkey's Ministry of
Justice, responded to a Turkish request to bring Europeans to Turkey
for an informal dialogue on problems related to extraditing
terrorists to Turkey. EU Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Gilles
De Kerchove, MOJ Deputy Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman and Consul
General Sharon Weiner emphasized the importance of a strong and
unified fight against terrorism and the much needed tool of
extradition. Each country presented its legal regime and practical
solutions in the extradition of terrorists. Iraqi judges provided
insight into the status of prior extradition treaties and the US
discussed its historical relationship with Colombia in developing a
strong extradition partnership. END SUMMARY

Bringing the Parties Together for Meaningful Dialogue
--------------------------------------------- --------
2. (SBU) On June 24-26 terrorism prosecutors, judicial officials and
extradition experts met in Istanbul to discuss how to improve
cooperation and effective extradition practices with Turkey.
Turkey's MOJ General Directorate for International Law and Foreign
Relations had requested that DOJ's first Resident Legal Advisor,
Suzanne Hayden, provide a platform for key European countries to
discuss extradition problems related to Turkey. Each of the top
terrorism prosecutors in Turkey, the Chief Public Prosecutors for
Istanbul and Ankara, the Deputy Undersecretary of Justice, Director
General and judges from the Directorate for International Matters
represented Turkey. Europeans included Switzerland's Head of
Extradition, Spain's Chief Prosecutor, Austria's Head of
International Penal law and her advisor, Netherlands' National
Terrorism Officer and extradition expert, Denmark's Chief Prosecutor
and the Deputy Director for Prosecution of Copenhagen, Belgium's Law
Enforcement Liaison Officer, and France's Liaison Magistrate. Each
country presented its perspectives and practices on the extradition
of terrorists and the challenges of extraditing suspects to Turkey.
Turkey provided its experience in overcoming rejected extradition
requests and discussed the application of its anti-terror laws. The
Turkish National Police Intelligence Unit (TNP/I) provided an
overview of terrorist groups in Turkey and set the stage for
discussions.

Terrorists in Turkey -- Leftist
-------------------------------
3. (SBU) TNP/I presented an over-view of leftist (DHKP/C), PKK and
religiously motivated terrorist organizations in Turkey, including
historical background and current status. TNP/I believes that the
DHKP/C has 150-200 active members and approximately 3,000
supporters/family members. All support for the terrorist activities
of DHKP/C is illegal and any cultural activities organized to raise
funds in support of the terrorist activities are also considered
illegal.

PKK
---
4. (SBU) TNP described the PKK as the primary rightist terrorist
group in Turkey, divided into a number of subgroups to camouflage
its activities. These include TAK, TTK, DIH, Eastern Turkey revenge
groups, Kurdish revenge groups and others. They estimate 2,350 PKK
members are in Northern Iraq, 800 of whom conduct terrorist
activities in Turkey from Iraq. The police described the three most
significant recent attacks by PKK: a) 22 May 2007 in Ankara which
killed 9 civilians and injured 91. The attacker had first trained
at a camp in the Netherlands and then traveled to N. Iraq; b) 11
September 2007 when explosives were found in Ankara city center; and
c) 3 January 2008 attack in Diyarbakir when 7 civilians were killed
and 90 civilians and 26 soldiers were injured.

5. (SBU) TNP described PKK as an organization that has lost its good
reputation in the past few years because of its attacks against
Turkish/Kurdish civilians. From 2000-2008 6,417 PKK members
submitted applications under the repentance law and 1,205
surrendered to authorities.

6. (SBU) TNP argued that the PKK's connection to Europe is
three-pronged: recruitment, financing and propaganda. They asked
the Europeans for increased cooperation and scrutiny of PKK. TNP
has provided intelligence to relevant countries but is frustrated
because PKK members sought in Europe through Interpol Red Notices
have not been extradited to Turkey. They listed five leading PKK
operatives who have taken refuge in Europe: a) Zubeyir Aydar, Kongra
Gel chairman, granted asylum in Switzerland; b) Remzi Kartal, member
of KNR foreign relations unit; c) Riza Altun, formerly "responsible
for Europe;" d) Nedim Sevin, financial coordinator for the PKK in
Europe ("the safe"); and e) Mehmet Esiyor, formerly responsible for
CDK in Russia, currently under arrest in Switzerland for murder.

Religiously Motivated
---------------------
7. (SBU) Religiously motivated groups were divided by TNP into three
types: a) violent (Tawhid, Tagut, Jihad) b) radical religious groups
which have not resorted to violence to date; and c)
non-violent-religious orders and sects. The first group includes
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and Turkey has become both a transit
point and target for these groups, according to the TNP. Turkish
Hezbollah, the most important Turkish religiously motivated
organization, established in Diyarbakir in 1992, is not related to
Lebanese Hezbollah. This group is believed to have killed
approximately 500 PKK members and operates from Switzerland and
Germany since its leaders were captured in an operation in Istanbul
in 2000.

Need for Personal Relationships, Direct Access
--------------------------------------------- -
8. (SBU) Following the TNP presentation, the various European
representatives discussed extradition laws and practices. A number
of presenters reiterated the need for the requesting and source
country to be on the same page. While all began by stating that
extradition was the same for any crime, several admitted in their
discussions that extraditions for terrorism required a higher
standard due to the political sensitivities involved. Having a
clear explanation reinforced by precise description of the crimes
alleged to have been committed assist in determining a state's
ability to extradite. Each country urged Turkey to contact the
requested country and provide a point of contact for further
information. The Europeans described EUROJUST as a good tool for
facilitating the flow of information and stated the need for quick
access to counterparts for additional information.

9. (SBU) The European participants repeatedly raised the need for
confidence and trust as foundations for successful extradition
requests. Each requested state must feel that the requesting state
will conform to international and human rights standards. Adding to
the problem of consistent and fair extradition proceedings, in
several countries initial hearings in an extradition case are not
centrally coordinated . Therefore, a prosecutor can make an
uninformed or ad hoc decision without knowing the current
humanitarian situation in the requesting country.

Examples that work
------------------
10. (SBU) Mary Lee Warren, DOJ's Counsel to the EU, described the
US's efforts with Colombia to overcome a constitutional ban on
extradition of its nationals, difficulty in transferring proceedings
to Colombia to try its citizen, and the transition to a fully
cooperative extradition regime in which the US and others can seek
and receive defendants for trial. 11. (SBU) Iraqi judges identified
Iraq's current counter-terrorism laws and stated that the current
laws -- such as its 1936 extradition treaty with the US, its 1932
and 1947 agreements with Turkey and its 1983 "Riyadh agreement with
fellow Arab countries" -- are all still in effect.

The Shield of Asylum Status
---------------------------
12. (SBU) Several European participants discussed asylum as an
obstacle to appropriate extradition and explained that the Council
of Europe and the EU are aware of that specific problem and are
working to address it. Turkey stated that, as a requesting country,
this was one of the most difficult aspects to understand and
suggested that individuals who had committed terrorist acts should
not be given asylum. A number of countries stated that the issue
confronting them now was how and under what circumstances to
withdraw asylum status. France described the number of individuals
seeking asylum with obviously forged or false documents and lamented
there was no way to contact Turkey informally for information on
their authenticity. This, too, has resulted in the unintended but
necessary granting of protected status.

13. (SBU) Turkey stated that the most common grounds in rejected
extradition requests are a) right of asylum, b) political crimes, c)
lack of dual criminality, d) the perceived potential for torture and
maltreatment in Turkey. It pointed out that in the last 20 years,
only three individuals accused of terrorism have been extradited
(Orhan Ozdemir (Hizbullah) from Austria in 2004; Mehmet Ittas (PKK)
from Germany in2007 and Mehmet Esref Kizilay (PKK) from Germany in
2007).

14. (SBU) In all cases, the countries present stated that regarding
dual criminality, the factual basis and not the nomenclature would
be judged as the critical element to trigger extradition. A lengthy
discussion ensued regarding a scenario in which material support for
terrorism might not be extraditable under Turkey's terrorist
financing law, but would under its terrorism law. Again, Turkey was
urged to be accessible via email or telephone to discuss the request
with the requested country's Justice Representative.

15. (SBU) COMMENT: Throughout the three days, the participants
discussed and compared their legislation and practices and provided
candid acknowledgement of the strengths and deficiencies of their
own laws. In this group, Turkey was the only country to have
defined "terrorism" pre-9/11. Countries such as Belgium and Austria
did not have a terrorism law until 2004. All of the participants
reiterated their belief in the importance of the Roundtable as a
first step and several asked to have a second conference in which
they would be willing to bring and discuss their files.
Individually, the European participants related that the Roundtable
was an important step in showing Turkish authorities that they would
like to develop a closer and more successful Justice-to-Justice
relationship.

WILSON

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