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Kurdish-Dutch politician forced to stay in Turkey awaiting trial on terrorism charges

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Murat Memiş, a Dutch Socialist Party city councilor, has been ordered to remain in Turkey while he awaits trial on charges of terrorism, the NLTimes news website reported.

The Dutch politician is suspected of membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), involvement in activities for the European branch of the terrorist group and disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Memiş, who is of Kurdish origin, landed in Antalya on April 28 for business. He was detained in a restaurant in the Turkish city two weeks later, but the news of his detention was not announced for nearly six weeks.

The politician was interrogated multiple times without a having a lawyer present, something that happens often in Turkey, according to Dutch public broadcaster NOS. He asked the police to contact the Dutch Embassy in Ankara, but this request was initially ignored. Memiş was eventually able to contact the embassy himself, after which he was assigned a lawyer.

He is now in the city of Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey, where he is awaiting trial.

Correspondent Lucas Waagmeester managed to get a look at the case against Memiş and told NOS that the evidence is mainly based on social media. This includes Memiş retweeting tweets by Kurdish activists in Europe, posts showing that he was present at Kurdish meetings and images that show the flags of the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey is fighting.

Memiş is also accused of actively “recruiting in Europe,” but it is unclear what this means and there is no supporting evidence, the correspondent said. It is also stated that he is a member of a “Kurdish center,” with no further information on that.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing Memiş with assistance “where necessary and possible,” according to NOS. When asked whether Memiş can expect a fair trial in Turkey, Foreign Minister Stef Blok told NOS: “There are reasons we’re following this very critically. We have seen examples where that was not the case, but of course we also have to assess each specific case on its own merits.”

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