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Kurdish former MP sentenced for 22 years on terror-related charges

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Demonstrator holds a picture of HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven during a protest against the detention of three opposition lawmakers, in Istanbul, Turkey. — AFP/Files

A Turkish court on Monday has sentenced a Kurdish former lawmaker to more than 22 years in jail on terror-related charges.

Leyla Guven, an opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy who was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in June, was convicted of membership of a “terror group” and disseminating “terror propaganda” for outlawed Kurdish armed groups.

Guven, who shot to fame for a months-long hunger strike two years ago, was given 14 years and three months in jail on a charge of membership of a “terrorist organisation” and an additional eight years for two separate charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda”.

She was not present at the court hearing in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir, and her whereabouts were not immediately clear.

The court ordered Guven’s immediate arrest.

Her legal team told AFP news agency it would appeal the verdict.

In 2018, the 56-year-old gained international attention by launching a 200-day hunger strike in a bid to end jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation by securing him access to his family and lawyers.

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Guven was in custody on separate charges when she launched her hunger strike.

She was freed under judicial control last year after serving a one-year term for labelling the Turkish military operation against a Syrian Kurdish armed group an “invasion”.

The crackdown has alarmed global human rights groups and further strained Turkey’s uneasy relations with the European Union, which is increasingly concerned by the policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The opposition has accused Erdogan and his AK Party of seeking to quash dissent by jailing opposition members and critics since a 2016 failed coup.

The government has said its actions are justified by threats facing the country.


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