News ID: 220313
Published: 0501 GMT August 24, 2018

Former Turkish lawmaker seeking political asylum in Greece

Former Turkish lawmaker seeking political asylum in Greece

Greek authorities say a former Turkish lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), who is convicted of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is requesting asylum in the Southeastern European country.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that 44-year-old Turkish national Leyla Birlik surrendered to Greek police near the northeastern town of Alexandroupolis the previous day, and that she was in the process of applying for asylum.

Turkish officials handed down a 21-month prison sentence to Birlik on charges of insulting Erdogan back in January. She was freed pending appeal, but was banned from leaving the country.

Birlik had also been arrested in 2016 along with the HDP co-leaders on terror-related charges and affiliation to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group. She was released pending trial but a travel ban was slapped on her, Presstv Reported.

On April 19, the Turkish parliament stripped two HDP lawmakers of their legislative position as the Ankara government presses ahead with a clampdown on members of the opposition party.  

An unnamed official from the pro-Kurdish party said Osman Baydemir and Selma Irmak were removed from office over recent criminal convictions. Baydemir was convicted of insulting police, while Irmak was convicted of terror propaganda.

The Van High Criminal Court on March 24 found pro-Kurdish Turkish legislator Lezgin Botan, guilty of “damaging the unity and territorial integrity of the state, membership in a terrorist organization and disseminating related propaganda, and encouraging criminal acts,” and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

Separately, the 17th High Criminal Court in the capital Ankara sentenced another pro-Kurdish deputy, Aysel Tugluk, to 10 years in prison on charges of “being the leader of a terror organization.”

Earlier this year, the Turkish parliament stripped a lawmaker from the Peoples' Democratic Party of her status for a second time. 

The decision came after judicial and constitutional commissions from the parliament prepared a report on 56-year-old Leyla Zana, asking for her dismissal.

Of 324 legislators in attendance, 302 voted in favor of dismissing the Kurdish politician from the Turkish legislature, while 22 opposed the measure.

Parliamentary sources said Zana missed 212 consecutive parliament days between October 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017.

Zana had taken the oath on November 17, 2015 while saying in Kurdish, “With the hope of an honorable and lasting peace.” 

She had also finished it by changing its official wording of “Turkish people” to “people of Turkey,” leading the speaker to rule her oath invalid.

 

 

   
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