Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected a demand by Iraq to extradite fugitive Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashemi to the Arab country.
Speaking at a news conference in the capital Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Turkey would not extradite al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death over his involvement in terrorist activities and running a death squad.
"We will host Hashemi in our country as long as he wants to remain in Turkey. We will not hand him over," Erdogan said.
Erdogan claimed that the fleeing Iraqi vice president couldn’t have been involved in the crimes that he has been convicted of.
On Sunday, an Iraqi court tried al-Hashemi in absentia and sentenced him, his secretary, Ahmed Qahtan, who is also his son-in-law, to death.
Al-Hashemi fled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region in December last year as US troops were pulling out of Iraq. Baghdad persistently demanded that the autonomous Kurdish region hand over Hashemi to face justice, but the region declined to oblige.
He later moved to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and has been in Turkey since April.
He was accused of involvement in bomb attacks against government and security officials over the past years, including a November 2011 car bombing in the capital Baghdad that apparently targeted the Iraqi prime minister.