French authorities file preliminary charges on 11 over alleged Kurdish extortion racket

French authorities have filed preliminary charges against 11 people as part of a judicial probe into alleged extortion to raise funds for a banned Kurdish rebel group in Turkey.

The suspects with alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, were among 23 people arrested last week in Spain and France on suspicion of levying fees on fellow Kurds — in part to buy weapons for terror attacks in Turkey.

The Paris prosecutors' office said Monday that seven suspects placed under investigation over the weekend have been held in custody, while four others were conditionally released.

The PKK's conflict with Turkish forces has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984 when the rebels took up arms seeking autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.