Germany rebuked for sending Islamic militant to Turkey

The United States sharply rebuked Germany on Thursday for deporting a wanted Islamic militant to Turkey instead of extraditing him to New York to stand trial on terror-related charges.

Germany rebuked for sending Islamic militant to Turkey
Yilmaz during his trial in Düsseldorf in 2010. Photo: DPA

Adem Yilmaz, a Turkish citizen, has been charged by a US federal grand jury with conspiring to carry out a 2008 suicide bombing in Afghanistan, which left two US soldiers dead and 11 others injured.

Yilmaz, also known as Ebu Talha, was deported to Turkey recently after
serving 11 years in a German prison for his role in planning large-scale
attacks in Germany.

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The United States had demanded that Yilmaz be handed over to face the
charges against him brought in New York.

Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he was “gravely
disappointed” by Germany's decision to deport Yilmaz to Turkey rather than extradite him to the United States.

“The German government deliberately helped Yilmaz escape justice by placing him on a plane to Turkey,” Whitaker said in a sharply worded statement.

“The German government has refused to take any responsibility for failing
to extradite him to the United States, has flouted their treaty obligations
and has undermined the rule of law,” the acting attorney general said.

US 'will never relent'

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan complained directly to Germany during a meeting in Washington Wednesday with visiting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Germany's ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber.

“Yilmaz is a convicted terrorist. He's charged with serious crimes by the
US,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

“The US will never relent in its effort to bring Yilmaz to justice,” he
said, adding that Washington had also been in touch with Turkish authorities.

A German foreign ministry source said the deportation of Yilmaz to Turkey
was a “decision of the independent justice system” and was made “in compliance with the standards of the rule of law.”

Relations between Germany and the United States have been strained since Donald Trump became president, with the US leader openly criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcome to migrants from war-torn countries and questioning the value of the NATO alliance.

But Palladino said the United States still considered Germany a close ally,
explaining: “Friends must be frank with one another at times when they have concerns.”

A seven-count indictment seeking Yilmaz's arrest was issued several years ago by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Yilmaz, a member of a group called the Islamic Jihad Union, was accused of carrying out attacks on US troops on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2006.

Yilmaz also was alleged to have had contacts with the man who carried out the March 3rd, 2008 suicide bombing in Afghanistan that killed two US soldiers.

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Germany lifts travel warning for four Turkish regions

Germany lifted its travel warning for several coastal regions of Turkey on Tuesday, ceding partially to weeks of campaigning by Ankara, whose tourism industry relies heavily on German visitors.

Germany lifts travel warning for four Turkish regions
Beach chairs and umbrellas at a hotel complex in Antalya, Turkey. Photo: DPA

The warning will be lifted with immediate effect for the four coastal provinces of Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla, government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in Berlin.

“Turkey has developed a special tourism and hygiene concept for these four regions in order to realise safe tourism under the conditions of the pandemic,” Demmer said.

Turkey will require anyone travelling back to Germany to present a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours before departure.

Turkey had been one of 160 countries outside the European Union and the Schengen area for which a travel warning was in place until August 31st.

In July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had demanded a review of the travel warning while visiting his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin.

READ ALSO: Can you be forced to take a coronavirus test after returning to Germany from a risk country?

Anyone currently arriving in Germany from areas considered to be at high risk must produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days.

Germany, which is home to a large Turkish community, makes up the biggest group of tourists by nationality in Turkey.

In a blow to tourism in Spain, Germany last week added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests for returning travellers