Italy Frees Kurdish Rebel

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ROME: A Kurdish rebel's request for asylum in Italy has put Turkey in a straitjacket: The more it fights Italy to extradite Abdullah Ocalan on terrorism charges, the more difficult its pursuit of prized European Union membership becomes. "Ironically, Italy has been Turkey's strongest supporter in its bid to join the EU," says TIME Rome reporter Martin Penner. Which makes attacking Italy a case of biting the hand that feeds. Moreover, "the threat to boycott Italian goods could bring further problems, since Italy is one of Turkey's most important trading partners and a trade war would hurt Turkey more than Italy," says Penner.

Turks were infuriated Friday when Ocalan moved into a Rome apartment after being released from prison pending the outcome of his asylum request. Turkey warned the EU against supporting Kurdish separatists and sent 30,000 troops to root out Ocalan's supporters at his stronghold in eastern Turkey. But there appears to be little Ankara can do to shake Italy's resolve, which means Ocalan's careful choice of sanctuary may pay off.