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Prosecutor denies rumors about Öcalan’s death, says he’s in good health

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A prosecutor’s office in the western Turkish province of Bursa has denied reports about the death of the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is imprisoned on an island in the Sea of Marmara, saying he is in good health.

Lawyers representing Abdullah Öcalan said in a statement earlier this week that they have concerns about the life of their client amid rumors on social media of his death.

Claims emerged on social media on Sunday that Öcalan, who has been jailed in a high-security prison on İmralı Island since 1999, has died.

A statement from the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said on Tuesday Öcalan is alive and in good health and that reports claiming otherwise are unfounded and not credible.

In a statement by the İstanbul-based Asrın law firm on Monday, Öcalan’s lawyers recalled that their last meeting with Öcalan on İmralı took place on August 7, 2019 and that the last time Öcalan called his family was on April 20, 2020 concerning the coronavirus pandemic. They said no word has been heard from Öcalan since then due to his isolation in prison, calling on Turkish authorities to lift the ban preventing the lawyers from meeting with Öcalan. The lawyers said only by ending Öcalan’s isolation and allowing him to exercise his right to meet with his lawyers and family can the claims about his death be cleared up.

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

In May 2019, Öcalan’s lawyers had been allowed for the first time since 2011 to visit the jailed PKK leader at a time when hundreds of Kurdish prisoners were on a hunger strike to end what they said was the “isolation” imposed on the PKK leader.

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