Expelled lawmaker denied letters, news reports in prison sent by his party

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a renowned human rights activist and former member of the Turkish Parliament who was expelled from the legislature in March and subsequently imprisoned on a “terrorism” conviction, is being denied letters and news reports sent by his pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in prison on the grounds that they are “suspicious,” Turkish Minute reported, citing to his son.

Gergerlioğlu’s son, Salih, who spoke to the Fırat news agency on Sunday, said the HDP is sending letters in addition to printouts of news reports about him to his father; however, the administration of Ankara’s Sincan Prison is refusing to give the letters to the former deputy, claiming they’re “suspicious.”

Salih Gergerlioğlu said his father is being denied the letters from the HDP because the news reports sent by the party are from “suspicious” media outlets such as the Mezopotamya news agency, a pro-Kurdish media outlet, which along with other similar outlets is frequently subjected to accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

“The HDP wants to send a letter to its member and [former] deputy but it cannot. What can a person who sees news reports about himself do in prison? He can only exercise his right to information. This is a basic right,” said Salih Gergerlioğlu.

The former lawmaker, who is in solitary confinement in Sincan, has a TV in his cell, according to his son; however, the former deputy cannot watch anti-government TV stations such as Halk TV, TELE1 and KRT.

Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his parliamentary membership on March 17 after a Supreme Court of Appeals decision upheld a prison sentence of two years, six months given to the rights advocate lawmaker on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Proceedings were launched against Gergerlioğlu over his social media posts, and the deputy stood trial on terrorism charges for sharing a news report on Twitter in 2016. He was given the jail sentence at the end of his trial on Feb. 21, 2018 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, and the conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 19.

Gergerlioğlu was attacked by Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in December after he brought widespread claims of strip-searches and harassment in prisons and detention centers to the floor of parliament.

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