European rights court fines Turkey for violating Kurdish politician’s freedom of expression

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A man holds a picture of Selahattin Demirtaş as people gather outside Bakirkoy courthouse in Istanbul on January 12, 2018 in support of the jailed co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has fined Turkey for violating the right to free expression of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who was convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda in 2010, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

Demirtaş, then an executive at the Human Rights Foundation’s (İHD) Diyarbakır branch, said during a TV program in 2005 that jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan might play a role in peace talks.

In 2006 a Turkish court sentenced him to two-and-a-half years for disseminating the propaganda of an outlawed organization; however, the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the decision and sent the case back to the local court, saying that the sentence should have been issued under anti-terrorism laws.

The Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court in 2010 handed down a suspended sentence to Demirtaş on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

The ECtHR also ordered Turkey to pay €3,500 in compensation including expenses for the legal proceedings.

Demirtaş has been in jail since Nov. 2016.

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