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Release Demirtaş during presidential election campaign, says HDP

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The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is preparing to ask Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) for the release of jailed HDP deputy Selahattin Demirtaş, the party’s presidential candidate, during the campaign for an upcoming presidential election, Turkish media reports said on Friday.

Turkey will hold snap presidential and general elections on June 24, a year and a half earlier than original scheduled.

The HDP’s candidate Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 along with several other HDP deputies on terror charges. He is still in pre-trial detention.

HDP lawyers will apply to the YSK for the release of Demirtaş so that the presidential election can take place in a democratic environment and under equal conditions for all the presidential candidates.

Demirtaş’s campaign will reportedly appeal to voters of all parties and highlight a process  of normalization in Turkey. If he is not released from prison, Demirtaş will conduct his campaign with messages sent from prison through his lawyers.

Demirtaş ran against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2014 presidential election and lost. However, he has remained one of the most popular political figures in Turkey.

Erdoğan is the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate for the June 24 elections.

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