Lawyers for HDP’s jailed presidential candidate Demirtaş apply to Turkey’s top court for his release

Lawyers for Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on Tuesday applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court for his release, the T24 news website reported.

After the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) official announcement of Demirtaş’s presidential candidacy, lawyers applied to the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court for his release on May 15, but the judges refused to grant it.

They then filed an objection with the Ankara 20th High Criminal Court; however, that court also refused his release on the basis that he would destroy the evidence against him.

Meanwhile, Demirtaş has requested permission to make an appearance on a popular election talk show through the public payphone in Edirne Prison, where he is being held on terror charges.

Demirtaş has applied to the Ministry of Justice for permission to call in to the “Leaders on Fox” show on Fox TV, said HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen. The show has so far featured presidential candidates from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its allies, the Felicity Party (SP).

A representative from Turkey’s YSK confirmed that Demirtaş has applied to speak on the show on May 30 and will use his full 10 minutes if granted permission.

Despite calls for his release, Demirtaş’s presidential campaign has so far been conducted from his prison cell through messages passed on to supporters, which are then posted on social media.

The HDP’s ex-leader Demirtaş has been in prison pending trial since November 2016 when he was arrested on terror charges under an ongoing state of emergency. Turkish prosecutors seek a 142-year prison sentence for the politician for allegedly spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demirtaş denies membership in the group and says his party has been scapegoated for the breakdown of peace negotiations held by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and PKK.

Başak Demirtaş, the wife of Selahattin Demirtaş, on May 16 said following a prison visit that her husband was holding a rally for his cellmate, HDP deputy Abdullah Zeydan.

CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce and İYİ Party presidential candidate Meral Akşener have called on government to release Demirtaş.

Pervin Buldan, the co-chair of HDP, said on Tuesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP was doing its utmost to ensure the HDP does garner the 10 percent of the vote it needs to win seats in parliament in the June 24 elections, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

“The June 24 elections will determine our fate. It will change the fate of the peoples of Turkey. That is why they fear us,” Buldan said. She said the AKP, in power since 2002, feared the charismatic former HDP leader Demirtaş.

“They fear Demirtaş and they fear the HDP. They are holding Demirtaş hostage because they fear him,” Buldan told an election rally in the Aegean province of Manisa. As well as imprisoning Demirtaş, Buldan accused the AKP of moving polling stations away from Kurdish-populated areas so as to suppress the HDP vote. (SCF with

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