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Government ponders ways to gag Öcalan

ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News | 9/22/2011 12:00:00 AM | Göksel Bozkurt

The Turkish government is looking into ways to limit meetings between jailed terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan and his lawyers to prevent him from relaying messages to his militants.

The Turkish government is looking into ways to limit meetings between jailed terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan and his lawyers to prevent him from relaying messages to his militants.

According to information obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has instructed his aides to explore the possibility of administrative and legal arrangements to curb Öcalan’s communication with the outside world.

The issue was discussed Monday at the Central Decision and Executive Board meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, where party members expressed concern over Öcalan directing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, from behind bars.

Party members with judicial background argued that Öcalan has the legal right to meet with his lawyers once a week due to ongoing lawsuits against him.

The government cannot openly restrict Öcalan’s access to his lawyers, but boats used to carry the attorneys to the prison island of İmrali are said to have been “out of order” since July 27, preventing the visits.

The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that party jurists are focusing on legal formulas to stop the jailed chieftain from sending messages to the PKK, the media, and the public.

Legal amendments could be brought to Parliament when it opens in October, if Erdoğan gives the green light to the formula they would propose.

Government officials have previously said that silencing Öcalan is hard because of international agreements and European Union norms on the rights of inmates.

The fresh attempt at curbing Öcalan’s communications comes at a time when the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, is under fire over the leaking of recordings of meetings between high-level MİT officials and senior PKK militants.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, has been campaigning nationwide against Öcalan’s solitary confinement. Their request to visit Öcalan has been rejected by the Justice Ministry.

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