Jailed Kurdish politician says health problems remain despite hospital visit

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Selahattin Demirtaş

Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been in jail since November 2016, has said problems with his health remain after a delayed visit to a university hospital last week, the Evrensel daily reported.

The 46-year-old Kurdish politician said he has pain in his chest and difficulty breathing.

Following tests at a university hospital, a statement from the chief physician’s office said Demirtaş was examined by the cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology and pulmonology departments and that the relevant lab tests and screenings were performed, as a result of which no acute or life-threatening conditions were detected.

Last week lawyer Aygül Demirtaş had announced her brother and client Demirtaş lost consciousness in prison the previous Tuesday and still had not been fully evaluated by medical authorities.

Demirtaş told the Evrensel daily that he is still waiting for a diagnosis.

The Kurdish politician was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, before he was jailed. He ran twice against Erdoğan in presidential elections held in 2014 and 2018. Demirtaş conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 presidential election.

A Turkish court found Demirtaş guilty in September 2018 of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November of the same year 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 sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

In September, a high criminal court in Ankara ruled to release Demirtaş pending trial, but he was not allowed to leave prison since he had been convicted in another case.

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