A French citizen with family ties to the jihadists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris last year will be extradited to France to face terror charges, a Bulgarian court ruled Tuesday.
Mourad Hamyd, 20, whose sister was married to Charlie Hebdo gunman Cherif Kouachi, was barred from entering Turkey late last month — allegedly after trying to join the Islamic State in Syria — and handed over to Bulgaria’s border authorities.
On January 7 2015, the al-Qaeda-linked Kouachi brothers killed 12 people at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris. Their accomplice, IS-linked Amedy Coulibaly, killed a French policewoman a day later and four Jewish men during a siege of a kosher supermarket in Paris a day after that.
France requested Hamyd’s extradition on July 29, accusing him of “conspiring to prepare of acts of terrorism.”
He initially was suspected of a role in the attack. His high school classmates launched a successful social media campaign to clear his name, saying he was in class at the time.
The warrant for his arrest last month was based on his sister Khadija’s report to police that her brother had boarded a train via Hungary and Serbia to Bulgaria, even though he had told her he would travel to Morocco.
“This route corresponds with the route that is usually chosen by the jihadist volunteers that want to join the Islamic State group in Syria or Iraq,” the arrest warrant said.
If he is found guilty of the terror charges by a French court, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Hamyd denied the accusations on Monday, saying he never wanted to go to Syria, and also denied any links to the Islamic State group that claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack. He nevertheless agreed to be extradited.
Sofia City Court’s ruling is final and the transfer of Hamyd to France should happen within a week, the court said.
Hamyd first came into the spotlight in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when he was wrongly identified on social media as being among the killers.
He was taken in for questioning and later freed.