Sezai Temelli, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is being investigated for allegedly spreading “terrorist propaganda,” the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Tuesday.
The investigation was launched after a speech given by Temelli at an HDP campaign event in Tunceli on Jan. 31 in anticipation of Turkey’s local elections on March 31.
The prosecutor’s office in Tunceli has requested the removal of Temelli’s parliamentary immunity in order to be able to prosecute him for the speech in which he allegedly praised the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as spread propaganda on behalf of the PKK.
Temelli was previously slammed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who told him to leave the country due to his remarks stating that the HDP would win in “Kurdistan,” in an apparent reference to Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast.
“There is a Kurdistan region in Iraq. You can go there,” Erdoğan said. “But in Turkey, I have no such region.”
“This man isn’t even a Kurd,” Erdoğan also said earlier in March.
The HDP has been increasingly targeted by Erdoğan and his government since a coup attempt in 2016.
In many southeastern provinces, HDP-elected mayors were removed and replaced by government-appointed trustees.
The HDP’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been imprisoned since November 2016 on terrorism charges.