Turkish FM rebukes ECHR's Demirtaş ruling
The European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling calling on Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been in prison for over two years on terrorism charges, is not legal but a politically-motivated one, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, vowing the Turkish government will object to the decision.
“The EHCR has issued a ruling motivated by politics. It’s also inconsistent with the court’s earlier verdict which affirmed that the detention [of Demirtaş] was based on reasonable suspicion. If he is detained on a reasonable suspicion, then it should be recognized that the length of the detention and whether it’s going to be extended or not will be decided by a Turkish court,” Çavuşoğlu told broadcaster CNNTürk in an interview on Nov. 23.
In a verdict announced earlier this week, the Strasbourg-based court said Demirtaş had been arrested on “reasonable suspicion” of committing a crime, but said the reasons given for keeping him behind bars were not “sufficient” and constituted “an unjustified interference with the free expression of the opinion of the people.”
It found that the extension of his detention, particularly during a referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers and later a presidential election, were aimed at “stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which was at the very core of the concept of a democratic society.”
Demirtaş, 45, is charged with a string of offences, including terrorist propaganda for the illegal PKK, for which he faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted. He denies the charges.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.
Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish government was planning to object to the ruling and will take it to a higher chamber of the EHCR.
In reaction to claims that Turkey’s membership to the Council of Europe could be endangered in the event that it does not comply with the court’s decision, the minister said many countries, particularly Greece, had long been violating this principle especially on verdicts about the rights of the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace.
‘Mogherini’s comments out of line’
The court’s decision on Demirtaş was brought to the country’s agenda again after the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Federica Mogherini, criticized the detentions of journalists, academics and the politician during a dialogue meeting between the EU and Turkey on Nov. 22 in Ankara.
Mogherini called on Turkey to comply with the court’s decision at a joint press conference with Çavuşoğlu, stressing compliance with them and with the standards of the Council of Europe were part of political criteria Ankara need to meet.
Criticizing Mogherini’s comments as “out of line,” Çavuşoğlu said in the interview: “You had to see their faces during our meeting when I challenged them and asked ‘Why are you so silent when it comes to Greece’s non-compliance.’”