Man arrested for hanging poster of jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş

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A woman holds pictures of former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party HDP Selahattin Demirtas, in jail for a year and a half, and HDP candidate for the upcoming presidential election, during a rally on May 4, 2018 in Besiktas district of Istanbul. Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) launched its campaign for June 24 elections, as other opposition parties indicated they were set to join forces in an unprecedented alliance against incumbent president. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

A 57-year-old man in İstanbul was arrested on terrorism charges for hanging a poster of former Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been behind bars since November 2016, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

The man, Selahattin Gündüz, appeared in court in İstanbul on Monday. He was detained in a police raid on his house in İstanbul’s Sancaktepe neighborhood on Saturday.

Gündüz was arrested by the court on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

In his defense Gündüz admitted to having hung the poster of Demirtaş but denied the terrorism charges against him.

The man’s lawyer said Demirtaş was an HDP deputy for three terms and that his poster does not constitute any crime according to Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

“He was the leader of a political party. He received around 4 million votes. … As a member of the HDP, Gündüz hung the poster of the party’s leader, and this cannot be considered a crime,” said the lawyer.

A Turkish court found Demirtaş guilty in September of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld Demirtaş’s four-year, eight-month prison sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently accuses HDP politicians of being terrorists due to the party’s alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.

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