Jailed HDP candidate was granted rights via Twitter, court rules

The jailed candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the Jun. 24 presidential election has been told by Turkey’s highest court that he used his legal right to campaign for the election when he sent messages to the electorate via Twitter, Turkish news site Bianet has reported.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP’s former co-chair, was only able to contact his supporters during the election campaign via social media posts sent from his cell in a high-security prison in the northwest of Turkey, where he has been held for nearly two years for alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed armed group that has sought Kurdish self-rule since 1984.

Demirtaş’s legal team launched a complaint about the politician’s treatment during the run-up to Jun. 24, arguing that his continued detention pending trial had infringed on the constitutional rights to free elections and to conduct a political campaign in this context.

The Constitutional Court has rejected the lawyers’ claim, on the grounds that Demirtaş had been allowed to speak twice on the state-run broadcaster TRT before the elections.

In addition, Demirtaş had been allowed to communicate his election propaganda via social media platforms through his colleagues’ mobile devices, the ruling stated.

During the run-up to election day, Demirtaş’s application for release was rejected by a string of courts before the Constitutional Court put an end to the situation with a final rejection on Jun. 13.

The HDP candidate won over 8 per cent of the vote after running his campaign from a prison cell.


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