Jailed former CHP deputy to go on hunger strike in protest of trial

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A picture taken on November 17, 2015 shows former Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Eren Erdem as he makes a speech at the Turkish parliament in Ankara. An Istanbul court ordered Eren Erdem, a former MP for Istanbul from the Republican People's Party (CHP), be charged for "deliberately and willingly helping an armed terror group, without being a member", Anadolu news agency reported. Erdem will now remain in jail ahead of trial. He risks between nine-and-a-half and 22 years in jail if convicted. / AFP PHOTO / CUMHURIYET DAILY NEWSPAPER / Necati Savas

Republican People’s Party deputy Barış Yarkadaş announced on Halk TV that former CHP deputy Eren Erdem, who has been in pretrial detention for seven months on terrorism charges, is about to go on a hunger strike to protest the trial he is being subjected to, the Halk TV website reported on Monday.

Yarkadaş, who appeared on the “Media Neighborhood” TV show, claimed that Erdem has “emptied his refrigerator” and is about to launch a hunger strike that he refers to as “justice fasting,” while his lawyers are trying to talk him out of it.

“I am being unjustly imprisoned and I feel degraded by the fact that I am being tried for being a member of FETÖ, a group I have nothing to do with. I can no longer handle this, and that is why I am embarking upon ‘justice fasting’,” Erdem reportedly said in a letter revealed by Yarkadaş, who also called on him to abandon the idea of a hunger strike.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement, accused of masterminding a failed coup attempt in 2016. Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric who inspired the movement, denied having any role in the abortive putsch and called for an international investigation.

Erdem was first arrested in June 2018, just five days after he failed to secure a seat in the legislature in the parliamentary elections. Charged with “aiding a terrorist organization,” he faces a prison sentence of between nine and 22 years.

Prior to his political career, Erdem was a journalist for the Karşı daily, which published documents from graft probes that became public knowledge in December 2013 and implicated the inner circle and the family members of then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who labeled the probe as a conspiracy orchestrated by the Gülen movement to overthrow his government, an argument widely echoed among the pro-AKP media.

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