World Bulletin/News Desk
The Kurdish National Congress, a coalition of Kurdish groups across Europe, said on Friday it considered the arrest of one of its members in France as a "head-on attack" against the Kurdish people to satisfy Turkey.
Adem Uzun, deemed by Ankara to be the main leader in Europe of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) armed separatist group, was detained this week pending trial on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist association and trying to acquire weapons.
"With this arrest, France has met the expectations of (Turkish Prime Minister) Erdogan," the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) said in a statement.
"The KNK considers the arrest of Adem Uzun to be a head on attack against the Kurdish people and we hope the French state will reverse this decision."
A French official at the public prosecutor's office said Uzun, who had been under surveillance for several months, was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the purchase of anti-tank missiles for his organisation, including one contract worth 1.2 million euros ($1.56 million).
The official said Uzun and two other men belonged to the PKK and had been detained as part of the investigation. Ankara had not yet asked for his extradition, the official said.
A government source in Ankara said he was wanted by Turkish authorities.
Another arm of the PKK, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), threatened Paris directly on Wednesday.
"The KCK ... calls on the French state to desert its hostile attitude against Kurds. Otherwise, the Kurdistan freedom movement and Kurdish people will exercise their rights to retaliate, and will be obliged to make decisions against the interests of the French state." it said.
Turkish intelligence officials have had contacts with senior PKK figures in Europe in recent years to try to end a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives but talks broke down.
According to Turkish media, Uzun was part of those talks. He was due to attend a conference on Saturday looking at the future of Kurds in Syria to be held at the French parliament with prominent Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian Kurds.
Turkish analysts suspect Assad of allowing a Syrian Kurdish movement believed to be linked to the PKK, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to take control in parts of northern Syria to stop locals from joining the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Assad has denied allowing the PKK to operate on Syrian soil and the PYD denies any association with the PKK.