Turkey’s top court rules rights violation in case of jailed former HDP politician

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Sırrı Süreyya Önder, former HDP deputy, writer and director. PHOTO: Vatan

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that there has been a violation of the freedom of expression in the case of Sırrı Süreyya Önder, a former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy who has been behind bars since late 2018, according to Turkish media reports.

Önder stood trial on charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization in a speech during a celebration of the spring festival of Nevruz in İstanbul in 2013. He was given a jail sentence of three years, six months in September 2018 and was sent to prison in December 2018 after a higher court upheld his sentence.

In the 2013 speech, Önder allegedly spread the propaganda of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984 and is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

Following the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Thursday, Önder is expected to be released from prison.

In the same trial, former HDP co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been behind bars since November 2016, was also given a jail sentence of four years, eight months on charges of promoting terrorist propaganda in a speech he delivered during the Nevruz celebration in İstanbul.

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