France convicts 11 from PKK of 'terror financing'
A French court convicted 11 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members on terror funding charges, with penalties ranging from suspended three-year jail terms to five years in prison.
A French court has sentenced 11 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members on terror funding charges, with penalties ranging from suspended three-year jail terms to five years in prison with one year suspended.
The convicted are all Kurds and speak little or no French, and have been accused of being part of a network seeking 'revolutionary tax' from the Kurdish Diaspora.
According to the Paris court, "significant amounts" of money were gathered by threats such as "exclusion from the community." Four of the accused had previously been jailed, and two had failed to appear in court.
The militants were not banned from France, something common in terrorism cases.
The PKK has been fighting Ankara for decades in order to give the Kurdish minority in Turkey's southeast more autonomy, or independence.
The accused denied being members of the PKK, claiming the organization had no presence in France. Organized cells of the organization are said to be active among Kurdish inhabitants of France, the Netherlands, and Germany's million-strong population.
The inquiry into the matter began in 2020, when two Kurdish women aged 18 and 19 were reported to be leaving France for PKK training camps in other parts of Europe.
Furthermore, the investigation uncovered a network based on a Kurdish organization in the southern city of Marseilles, which authorities said was collecting a type of community tax to pay the PKK militants.
Investigators suspect that $2.2 million is gathered each year in southeastern France, adding that testimony and phone eavesdropping indicated harassment and extortion of diaspora members, as "tax collectors" established unreasonable contributions for people based on their anticipated income.
Turkey, the United States, and the European Union have called the PKK as a terrorist organization and Ankara is frequently in conflict with Turkish soldiers in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast, which is linked to northern Iraq.
As a result, the Turkish military has occupied territories in northern Iraq, where it frequently conducts strikes against alleged PKK bases in violation of Iraqi sovereignty.