Iraq's fugitive Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, for whom Interpol on Tuesday issued a "red notice," has said he plans to stay in Turkey until the ongoing political crisis in Iraq is resolved, Today's Zaman reported.
The Iraqi vice president, who is currently in İstanbul, said he did not have direct talks with Turkish officials following Interpol's red notice, but rather had "indirect talks." "Statements by high level Turkish officials [against the arrest warrant] confirmed Turkey's support for me. I am thankful to Turkey on this issue," Hashemi told a Turkish TV station on Wednesday. "I hope this political problem [in Iraq] is settled soon."
Noting that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statements late on Tuesday confirmed "unjust treatment of him by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki," Hashemi said he would never forget the friendly support of the Turkish government and the Turkish people.
Erdoğan said at a news conference in Rome while on a trip to Italy that he believed Hashemi would return to Iraq after receiving medical treatment. "Hashemi continues with his initiatives regarding his legal problems," Erdoğan said. "We gave him all kinds of support on this issue and we will continue to do so."
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also commented on Turkey's stance on the Interpol notice on Hashemi, openly stating that Turkey will not turn over the Sunni politician to Iraq. "We would not hand in someone who we support," he said in Parliament on Wednesday.
Hashemi also issued a statement late on Tuesday saying the Interpol notice "was issued on baseless, politically motivated allegations levied against me" by Maliki and that "international justice is being manipulated by sectarian political forces that are hijacking my country from the path of democracy." Hashemi added, "I am not a criminal, and I am not on the run."
Hashemi earlier vowed to not return to face what he calls politically motivated charges. The Iraqi vice president arrived in Turkey in April to secure Ankara's help against Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's policy of excluding Sunni politicians from power. He had asked for protection from Turkey due to the death threats he had received.
He was taken under special protection after he met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Iraq has not yet formally requested that Turkey hand over Hashemi.
Hashemi fled Baghdad in December when the Iraqi government issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing him of running death squads that targeted Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces. He denies the charges, saying are "politically motivated."
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