Germany deports jihadist to Turkey despite US extradition request

A US request for the extradition of a Turkish national wanted in the United States on terrorism charges was rejected because there was no other option under German law, authorities said Thursday, in a case that has raised the ire of officials in Washington.

Adem Yilmaz, who was indicted under seal in the U.S. in 2015 on charges of participating nearly 10 years earlier in attacks on U.S. military forces along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization in Germany in 2010.

To extradite him to face trial in the U.S. on terrorism charges would constitute double jeopardy under German law, Frankfurt state court spokeswoman Gundula Fehns-Boeer told The Associated Press.

“An extradition could have only occurred if the Americans said they would restrict the charges to crimes not already punished,” she said.

After the Frankfurt court’s decision on the American request last week, Hesse state officials on Tuesday deported Yilmaz to his native Turkey, said state Interior Ministry spokesman Marcus Gerngross.

Gerngross said there was “nothing unusual” about deporting a foreign national who had violated German laws, but the decision angered American officials.

American officials filed additional assurances on Monday, attempting to address the Frankfurt court’s decision, but the deportation was carried out before those arguments could be considered.

After learning of the deportation, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan called a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who was in Washington to take part in meetings of the coalition fighting against the Islamic State group, to express American displeasure.

“We are gravely disappointed by Germany’s decision to deport a dangerous terrorist — Adem Yilmaz — to Turkey, rather than to extradite him to the United States to face justice for his complicity in the murder of two American servicemen,” acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement later Wednesday after the two diplomats had met.