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Germany Jails Kurdish militant amid tensions with Turkey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Thousands of Kurds, including many carrying flags with the image of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, demonstrate in Cologne, Germany, on September 3, 2016. (Photo by AP)

A court in Germany has imprisoned a member of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a rare move amid rising diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Berlin.

The superior regional court in the southwestern city of Stuttgart ruled on Thursday that the man was a PKK functionary in Germany for 30 months.

The court called the PKK, a group listed as terrorist by the European Union and the United States, as "an especially dangerous terrorist organization."

It sentenced the unidentified 47-year-old man to three years and three months in jail for his execution of PKK leadership orders on fundraising, propaganda and recruitment.

Turkey has been critical of Germany’s alleged support for Kurdish militants and has raised the issue several times over the past months. The quarrel is one of a series of disputes, which have badly marred diplomatic relations between the two countries since a failed coup in Turkey in July last year.

Germany continues to criticize Turkey for a massive post-coup crackdown, which has seen more than 40,000 people jailed and over 100,000 relieved from their jobs.

Turkey says Germany has never thought twice in allowing demonstrations and activities by members and sympathizers of the PKK in Germany while it has been soft on Turkish coup plotters. Ankara says the policy sharply contrasts with Berlin’s unwillingness to allow similar rallies among Germany’s large Turkish diaspora.

Germany has denied that any bias has existed in favor of the Kurds, saying police and security forces have always been tough on Kurdish militants.

As a mitigating factor in its sentencing, the court said the convicted PKK member had suffered from harassment in Turkey before coming to Germany. It said the man had been "personally subjected to abuse by the Turkish state as a member of the Kurdish ethnicity before leaving the country.”

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