Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will continue to support Iraq's fugitive vice president even after Interpol issued a worldwide alert for his arrest.
Erdogan told a news conference in Italy on Tuesday that his government had always supported Tariq al-Hashemi and would continue to do so in future.
The Turkish premier also claimed that Hashemi, who is being tried in absentia at a Baghdad court on terrorism charges, is in Turkey for medical treatment and that he will return to Iraq following his treatment. Hashemi has been in Turkey since mid-April.
Erdogan's remarks came shortly after the international police organization, Interpol, issued a "Red Notice" for Hashemi’s arrest “on suspicion of guiding and financing terrorist attacks” in Iraq.
Interpol's “Red Notice,” which is non-binding, is a request for local police to detain a wanted person with a view to their extradition.
According to Iraqi authorities, Hashemi is linked to a total of 150 killings, including political assassinations, in post-invasion Iraq.
He fled to Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region shortly after an investigative committee within the Iraqi Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for him on December 19, 2011.
Terrorism charges were brought against him after three of his bodyguards confessed to taking orders from him to carry out terrorist attacks.
Hashemi, however, has denies all charges, saying they are politically motivated.