Opposition candidate allowed out of jail for ten-minute campaign speech

Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the upcoming Jun. 24 election, will be transported from prison to Turkey’s state television studios to make two televised ten-minute broadcasts, state-run news agency Anadolu reported on Thursday.

Turkey is gearing up to cast votes in presidential and parliamentary elections this month in the first poll ushering in a new presidential system.

Demirtaş has been held at Edirne Prison pending trial on terrorism charges since November 2016, having been accused of spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has pursues Kurdish self-rule through armed struggle.

On the days of both speeches, he will be transported to the TRT studios for the broadcast and then back to prison.

His speeches will be made on Jun. 17 and Jun. 23, one day before voting, and will be broadcast on TRT, Turkey’s public broadcaster during a programme on which other candidates will also appear.

The exception to this is Muharrem İnce, the candidate for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who chose not to apply for the ten minute speeches in protest the far longer broadcast times granted by the public broadcaster to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) compared to the opposition.

During the ten-minute speeches, only the candidate and the Turkish flag will appear on the screen. The speeches will be simultaneously broadcast on public radio stations around Turkey.

Demirtaş has been forcedso far to run his electoral campaign from prison, after calls from opposition leaders to let him out during the campaign were rejected by the government.

The HDP candidate applied in May to use his weekly ten-minute telephone allowance to call in to a political talk show, but that request was denied.