In spite of being put on Interpol's most wanted list on Tuesday, the Turkish government said on Wednesday it sees no reason to extradite the Iraqi Vice President, who is in Turkey for medical treatment.
"We will not extradite someone who we have supported since the very beginning," Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
Bozdag also pointed out that Iraq was not cooperating enough in Turkey's efforts to detain supporters of the Kurdish rebel group PKK, which carries out attacks inside Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.
Al-Hashemi is being tried in absentia in Iraq on charges of terrorism. He is being accused of guiding and financing death squads that targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims.
Bozdag's comments came a day after Interpol issued an international Red Notice for the arrest of al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's top Sunni Arab officials, on suspicion of "guiding and financing terrorist attacks".
Al-Hashemi, who has been in Istanbul since April 9, insisted in a statement posted on his website on Tuesday that he was not above the law and was ready to appear in court if his security and a fair trial could be guaranteed. But he also claimed that the charges were false and motivated by the Shiite-led Iraqi leadership's animosity towards Sunni politicians.
ng/ipj (AFP, AP)