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Ministry: Jailed presidential candidate Demirtaş’s right to be elected not violated

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Turkey’s Justice Ministry has said jailed politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s right to be elected was not violated although he had to conduct his campaign for the June 24 presidential election from jail.

Demirtaş, a former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been kept in pre-trial detention since November 2016, ran in the June 24 presidential election as the HDP’s candidate.

Although he repeatedly applied to the courts for his release before the election so that all candidates for office could wage an election campaign on an equal footing, Demirtaş was not released from prison.

The politician, who lost the election, petitioned Turkey’s Constitutional Court following the election on the grounds that his right to be elected was violated.

Responding to Demirtaş’s application to the top court, the Justice Ministry claimed there was no violation of Demirtaş’s rights because he was able to wage his campaign from jail. The ministry cited two speeches made by Demirtaş and broadcast by the state-run Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), campaign work carried out by party officials, messages he sent through his lawyers and advisors from prison, the statements he made on social media through his lawyers and a telephone call he made to his wife during which he spoke in the form of a campaign speech.

The ministry’s response, which it sent to the Constitutional Court, was shared by Demirtaş’s lawyer, Mahsuni Karaman, from his Twitter account on Wednesday. Karaman listed the points cited in the ministry’s response as the “favors of the state” to Demirtaş.

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