Turkey: pro-Kurdish politician released from prison

ANKARA, Turkey — A prominent Turkish opposition legislator was released from prison on Tuesday, days after the country’s top court ruled his rights to freedom and to exercise politics had been violated, the country’s state-run news agency reported.

Anadolu Agency said Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, was released from his prison in the outskirts of Ankara. He was stripped of his parliamentary seat three months ago and jailed for allegedly engaging in terrorist propaganda.

Gergerlioglu, who denied any wrongdoing, was also expected to return to parliament to resume his political activities.

The politician was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to two years and six months in prison after he retweeted a 2016 news article about a call for peace by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The court deemed the tweets to be propaganda on behalf of the PKK.

An appeals court had confirmed the conviction earlier this year. But the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Gergerlioglu last week.

The former head of an Islamist human rights association, Gergerlioglu has exposed several rights violations in Turkey, including alleged illegal strip-searches of detainees by police.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States. It has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. A fragile cease-fire and peace talks collapsed in the summer of 2015.

High court prosecutors have, meanwhile, filed an indictment at the Constitutional Court seeking the HDP’s closure as well as five-year bans from political office for hundreds of party members. The closure case is the latest crackdown on the party, which has seen its former leaders, lawmakers and thousands of activists arrested.