Contrary to what is widely assumed to be the case in
"The real operation has just now started. If it finishes well, it willbe the first decisive move made in
The French investigation, dubbed "Ýmralý" -- a reference to theisland off Ýstanbul where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence-- began last July when two members of the terrorist group were captured tryingto change 200,000 euros into dollars at an exchange bureau in France. It laterculminated into a crackdown on the group in February when the French policedetained 16 people, including some suspected to be the senior leaders of thegroup in
French sources indicate it could be too early to lose hope. "Thoughcircles watching this terror group in
According to the French sources, the questioning of the PKK members,including senior figures Rýza Altun, Nedim Seven and Canan Kurtyýlmaz, hasstarted anew in recent days. The PKK members remain free pending trial for themoment, though they are forbidden from traveling outside of
As part of the deepening investigation, a French delegation will also betraveling to
Decision to let them go free was surprising
The unexpected freeing of the 16 suspected PKK members in
The decision by the Paris Appeals Court to free the PKK members caught atthe end of an eight-month-long special operation by anti-terror units was ofthe greatest surprise to the anti-terror commissioners directing theinvestigation. The three commissioners and one prosecutor who appeared in courtall requested that the PKK members remain imprisoned. At this point,anti-terror unit members in
In the case presented before the court, it was pointed out that not only isthe PKK on the list of terror groups kept by EU countries, but some of thesuspects arrested in the operation were at that time being sought by Interpol"red bulletins."
A top level authority from the French Ministry of Justice, who did not wanthis name to be revealed, said the freeing of these suspects centered around twoseparate reasons. The most important reason for the freeing of the 16 was thedisclosure, following the arrests, that the PKK had relations with the Frenchdomestic intelligence agency, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire(DST). It was similarly revealed that during the investigation PKK members hadmet at least once a month with the DST and offered information about theiractivities. Authorities note that PKK lawyers "played" this secret cooperationbetween the DST and the PKK "very well" while in court. Interestingly, thisconnection, a topic in the French press, was never officially denied by theDST.
Another important aspect to this operation underscored by French officialsis the statement made by US Ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson, following theraids in
Meanwhile, Ministry of Justice sources say that PKK lawyers "tried to pullthe case out of the arena of terror and into the political arena by assertingthat the questioned PKK members were working for the Kurdish cause in
Sources also indicate that in the coming days, certain political names andstate authorities who had been quoted in this case may be called to "givetestimony." After the PKK arrests, it was noted in the press that presidentialcandidate Nicolas Sarkozy's right-hand man, ethnic Armenian politician PatrikDevejian, had had long standing contacts with certain Kurdish groups in
French authorities assert that the entire problem at this point stems fromcontradictions in the stance shown by EU countries toward the PKK as a whole.The PKK is in fact on the official EU list of terror groups. Despite this, mostEU countries continue to ignore PKK activities within their own borders. Whatthe EU has made clear is while this terror list is important for political andsymbolic reasons, it holds no legal value.