German woman convicted of IS membership over stay in Syria

BERLIN (AP) — A Berlin court on Friday convicted a German woman of membership in the Islamic State group over her time spent in territory controlled by the extremist group in Syria.

The court gave the 34-year-old, identified only as Zeynep G. in line with German privacy rules, a sentence of two years and 10 months in prison. However, it ordered her released on condition that she reports to authorities.

The defendant traveled to Syria to join IS in October 2014, the court found. There, she married a man of Chechen origin who had grown up in Germany and belonged to IS.

In 2015, the court said, she sent several messages to her former employer in Berlin calling on her also to join IS. After her husband was killed in fighting, she married another IS member, who gave her a Kalashnikov rifle as a wedding present.

The defendant was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and of violating weapons laws. In sentencing her, judges took account of the fact that she had distanced herself credibly from IS’ ideology, the court said.

They acquitted her of having used an apartment seized by IS, finding that they couldn’t rule out her family having acquired it on the open market.

The defendant had denied the charges, saying that her travel to, and stay in, Syria were motivated not by Islamic extremism but love for her first husband. The defense pleaded for acquittal, while prosecutors sought a 3 1/2-year sentence.

Prosecutors have said that Zeynep G. was captured by Kurdish forces in early 2019 and escaped about a year later from a refugee camp in northern Syria. She was then arrested after entering Turkey, and was taken into custody in Germany after being deported last May.

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