German hostages to be released if Turkey ends operations, PKK says

Other News Materials 14 July 2008 20:32 (UTC +04:00)

A senior member of Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said Monday that the three German hostages it is holding are in excellent health and would be released only if Berlin pressured Ankara to end its military operations against PKK fighters, reported dpa.

Ahmed Deniz told the Italian news agency Adnkronos by telephone that the German tourists, who were abducted by PKK rebels on Wednesday, were not "prisoners of war, but guests."

"Their abduction was in response to Germany's recent positions against our party, namely the closure of the satellite television channel Roj TV," said Deniz, who was in charge of the foreign affairs portfolio in the group.

The channel was working within German laws and there was no need for Germany to close it, he said.

"It seems that Germany does not even observe its own laws to serve the interests of Turkey and antagonize the Kurdish people," the official added.

Commenting on calls for the immediate unconditional release of the hostages, Deniz said the PKK respected international law but wanted Germany to pressure Turkey to end its war against the Kurdish people as a condition for the release of the hostages.

"The hostages will not be released until a peaceful climate is secured," he said.

"Anyone who wants them (the hostages) to return to their families, must not spare any efforts to press Turkey to end its fight on the Kurdish people," Deniz said.

"As long as the Turkish state insists on launching its fierce fight on our people, we will maintain our right to use all options to defend our people," Deniz said in the interview with Adnkronos' correspondent based in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in northern Iraq .

The hostages are in "excellent health and treated with all respect," Deniz said.

"We treat them as honourable guests," he added.

Turkey has been launching cross-border raids on PKK positions in the rugged mountains of northern Iraq. The group, seeking self-rule in south-east Turkey has been designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU. dpa sf jab