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Jailed Kurdish politician has no life-threatening condition, hospital says

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Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned former co-leader of Turkey’s Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who was taken to a hospital for an examination on Monday, nearly a week after he fainted in his prison cell, has no life-threatening medical condition, according to a statement from the Trakya University Hospital in Turkey’s Edirne province.

Earlier on Monday, lawyer Aygül Demirtaş said her brother and client Demirtaş, 46, lost consciousness in prison in Edirne last Tuesday and had still not been fully evaluated by medical authorities.

Just hours after Aygül tweeted the information, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement: “Upon receiving a complaint by Selahattin Demirtaş, who said he fell ill last Tuesday, [the prison management] had called an ambulance and a doctor conducted the necessary examination.”

“Even though there was no health issue detected, he was today [Monday] transported to Trakya University Medical School Hospital for further evaluation.”

Following tests at the university hospital, a statement from the chief physician’s office said Demirtaş was examined by the cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology and pulmonology departments and that the relevant lab tests and screenings were carried out, as a result of which no acute or life-threatening conditions were detected. 

The statement said Demirtaş had left the hospital with a recommendation to have polyclinic check-ups.

The Kurdish politician was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, before he was jailed. He ran twice against Erdoğan in presidential elections held in 2014 and 2018. Demirtaş conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 presidential election.

A Turkish court found Demirtaş guilty in September 2018 of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November of the same year that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld Demirtaş’s sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

In September, a high criminal court in Ankara ruled to release Demirtaş pending trial, but he was not allowed to leave prison since he had been convicted in another case.

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