Demirtaş applies to join election talk show through prison payphone

Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has requested permission to make an appearance on a popular election talk show through the public payphone in Edirne Prison, where he is being held on terror charges.

Demirtaş has applied to the Ministry of Justice for permission to call in to the “Leaders on Fox” show on Fox TV, said HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen. The show has so far featured presidential candidates from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its allies, Felicity Party.

A representative from Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council confirmed that Demirtaş has applied to speak on the show on May 30, and will use his 10 minute allowance to do so if granted permission.

Demirtaş has been in prison pending trial since November 2016 when he was arrested on terror charges under an ongoing state of emergency. Turkish prosecutors seek a 142-year prison sentence for the politician, who at the time served as his party’s co-chair, for allegedly spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist-designated group in Turkey that has been seeking Kurdish autonomy through armed struggle since the mid-1980s.

Demirtaş denies membership of the group and says his party has been scapegoated for the breakdown of peace negotiations held by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and PKK.

Despite calls for his release, Demirtaş’s presidential campaign has so far been conducted from his prison cell through messages passed on to supporters, which are then posted on social media.