Turkish court rejects pro-Kurdish HDP deputy Leyla Güven’s appeal for release from jail

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal for release by Leyla Güven, a deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) held since January on terrorism-related charges, the Evrensel news website reported.

Güven’s lawyers had filed the appeal after another politician, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Enis Berberoğlu, won an appeal in September to have his sentence postponed until the end of his term in parliament.

Berberoğlu was released after serving 16 months of a five-year, 10-month prison sentence for revealing government secrets. He had allegedly leaked information on truckloads of weapons sent by Turkish intelligence operatives to rebel groups in Syria.

The release of the CHP deputy will not serve as a precedent, however, for Güven, who must remain in pre-trial detention, accused of co-chairing the Democratic Society Congress, a part of the Kurdish political movement that Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government calls a terrorist organization.

Güven has also been accused of membership in a terrorist organization based on other activities, including statements criticizing Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militia forces in Afrin, an enclave in northwest Syria invaded by Turkey in January.

The HDP deputy was temporarily released on June 29, five days after winning a seat in parliament representing the southeastern city of Hakkari in the general election, on the basis that parliamentarians in Turkey are granted immunity.

A higher court ordered her arrest again on the same day, however, and the Turkish press reported that the prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of up to 31 years.

Turkey has charged many of the HDP’s senior politicians with membership in a terrorist organization based on alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

HDP politicians behind bars include Selahattin Demirtaş, a former co-chair of the party who ran as its candidate from his jail cell in the presidential election this year. (SCF with Ahval)

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