Turkey swaps jailed Russians for Crimean leaders — report

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The Turkish government exchanged two Crimean Tatar leaders accused of plotting riots for two Russians accused of espionage, a local media reported on Wednesday, giving fresh details on a deal reached in October.

Alexander Smirnov and Yury Anisimov were arrested in April 2016.

Until recently, they were held in pre-trial detention in Turkey, the local media said, citing court documents.

The two alleged spies were accused of forgery and intention to commit murder.

It said that they were tracked by local police following the 2015 death of a Chechen dissident in Istanbul.

In October, Ahmet Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were convicted of organising mass riots and separatism, were allowed to depart for Turkey.

They were sentenced by a Russian court in Crimea, an area annexed by Moscow though still claimed by Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for mediating the release of two Tatars.

Report sayCrimean Tatars are a Turkic people.

The local media reported that the two cases are directly linked.

Haberturk said a state prosecutor asked an Istanbul court to release the two alleged spies.

It cited a decree issued in August under Turkey’s state of emergency that allows for the exchange of foreigners jailed in Turkey for certain people being held abroad. (dpa/NAN)