Turkish election board refuses to allow Demirtaş to participate in political TV show by phone

Selahattin Demirtaş.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) on Wednesday refused a request by Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), to participate in a TV program by telephone, NTV reported.

Demirtaş asked the Justice Ministry if he could use his weekly telephone call to phone in to Fox TV to participate in the “Leaders in Fox” program, which gives a voice to presidential candidates ahead of the presidential election on June 24.

The HDP’s ex-leader Demirtaş has been in pretrial detention since November 2016.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Demirtaş applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court for his release.

After the YSK’s 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.

The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment in January 2017 demanding a sentence of 142 years’ imprisonment on charges of being the director of a terrorist organization.

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

Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce and İYİ (Good) Party presidential candidate Meral Akşener have both called on the government to release Demirtaş.

Meanwhile, former HDP deputies Ayla Akat Ata and Taşkın Aktaş were released from pretrial detention on Wednesday along with three others after a hearing at the Ardahan 1st High Criminal Court, Bianet reported.

Aktaş is an HDP candidate for member of parliament in snap elections to be held on June 24. He was detained in February for releasing a press statement about Kamber Morkoç, a 70-year-old villager killed by gunfire aimed by soldiers at the minibus in which he was travelling.

Ata was also detained in February following a speech at the funeral of Morkoç. Ata was previously in prison between October 2016 and May 2017, accused of protesting the detention of co-mayors of the Diyarbakır Municipality Gülten Kışanak and Fırat Anlı.

Also on Wednesday, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), 13 HDP members were detained by police in Diyarbakır on allegations of disseminating HDP propaganda for the election on June 24.

The report said the homes in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar district of HDP members who are responsible for campaigning were raided by the police this morning. Democratic Regions’ Party (DBP) Bağlar District Co-chair Hasret Akay, Bağcılar Election Bureau Officer Sinan Doğan, Saadettin Akay, Yasin Biet, Arzu Karaman, Özlem Noyan, Hacer Yaşar, Hasan Al, mentally disabled Tarık Günden and four other people were detained in the raids. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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