Turkey frees 2 Czechs jailed on terror charges

PRAGUE (AP) — Two Czech nationals jailed in Turkey three years ago for belonging to a Kurdish militant group flew back to Prague Friday after being granted early release following months-long negotiations between Turkish and Czech officials.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova were brought home on a Czech government plane.

“They have a very tough period behind them,” Babis said.

After undergoing a medical examination they will stay quarantined for two weeks under coronavirus protocol.

Turkey accused the two of belonging to YPG, a Kurdish group that was battling Islamic State militants in Syria with the aid of U.S. airstrikes. Turkey considers YPG a terrorist group.

The two were arrested Nov. 13, 2016 in Sirnak province while trying to cross Turkey’s border to Iraq. They were convicted on terror charges and sentenced to six years and three months in prison each on Aug 2, 2017.

The Czech government said they had nothing to do with terrorism and had been planning to build a field hospital for the Kurds in Syria.

Babis said he discussed their case with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last September. “I’m glad that we reached a solution to the problem,” he said. He added that no conditions had been attached to their release.

Babis thanked the Czech BIS counter intelligence service for its role in the case. BIS said tough negotiations to release the two lasted almost a year.

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