Demirtaş: Lack of computer facilities in prison makes defending himself impossible

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In this handout photo provided by the pro-Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party (HDP), former party leader Selahattin Demirtas and current Turkish presidential candidate, sits in prison in Edirne on May 4, 2018. The HDP announced the nomination of Demirtas for the upcoming presidential elections in Turkey, scheduled for June 24, 2018. Demirtas, who has been behind bars since November 2016, is in prison accused of links to outlawed Kurdish rebels and is facing a 142-year sentence on charges of leading a terror organization. It's unclear if Turkey's electoral board will approve Demirtas's candidacy. / AFP PHOTO / Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party (HDP) / HANDOUT

Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has said it is technically impossible for him to provide a proper defense since digital documents containing the charges levied against him exceed thousands of pages and he has only four hours of computer usage a week in prison.

“It would take me five-and-a-half years to work on the documents if I even just skimmed the pages for four hours every week,” Demirtaş said at a hearing on Wednesday, according to the Diken news website.

The documents were reportedly given to Demirtaş, a lawyer himself, on a flash disk.

“My lawyers are working on the documents, but they aren’t permitted to be here while I’m working on my defense,” he added, referring to the intensified prison regulations for terror suspects.

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Demirtaş has been in jail since November 2016 along with the party’s other former co-chair, Figen Yüksekdağ.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called him a “terrorist” during the presidential election campaign of June 2018. Demirtaş also ran for president and campaigned from prison.

The prosecutor accused Demirtaş of membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

“The judiciary that keeps me in jail released a wanted [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] ISIL member pending trial,” referring to Ayşenur İnci, who was later arrested after outrage was sparked on social media.

Turkey’s Ministry of Interior had listed İnci in the so-called “blue category” of people wanted for suspected terrorism and had offered TL 1.5 million ($300,000) for information leading to her capture.

In November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) urged Turkey to swiftly process the legal case of Demirtaş, saying his pretrial detention had gone on longer than could be justified.

However, the local Turkish court rejected his lawyers’ application for release in December.

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