EP rapporteur Piri calls on Turkey to release jailed HDP presidential candidate Demirtaş

The European Parliament’s (EP) Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, has called for the release of jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş ahead of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, the T24 online news outlet reported.

According to the report, Piri took to Facebook on Monday, highlighting that Demirtaş, who has been in pre-trial detention for 19 months and faces a string of terror-related charges, is campaigning from his prison cell.

“Other candidates, such as Muharrem İnce [CHP] and Meral Akşener [İYİ], have called for his release. Only then can there be a fair campaign. That seems to me to be a demand that all democrats must support,” Piri said, echoing the calls made by Turkey’s opposition figures for the release of Demirtaş during his presidential campaign.

EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn last month said that Turkey’s upcoming elections would not be fair under the ongoing state of emergency that was implemented following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, pointing to the chokehold over freedom of expression in Turkey.

Turkey heads to the polls on June 24 for elections that will usher in a new presidential system that was narrowly approved in last year’s referendum and will grant increased powers to the president.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that Demirtaş will answer questions from Turkey’s electorate on social media on Wednesday. The presidential candidate will share his answers to questions posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until 11 p.m. on Wednesday. (SCF with Ahval)

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