Turkey’s Erdoğan says he was unaware of red notice on PKK leader’s brother

a red notice for the arrest for the brother of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Sözcü newspaper reported.

Erdoğan was answering questions about an interview with Osman Öcalan broadcast on state-run TRT Kürdi (Kurdish) a few days before Istanbul rerun on June 23.

The interview was broadcast following the PKK leader sent a letter from prison calling on the predominantly Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP) to follow a third way in Turkish politics. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the letter meant a call for HDP voters to drop their support for the opposition’s mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.

“I did not know Osman Öcalan was on the wanted people list with a red notice,” Erdoğan said. “Those who are managing TRT take their steps by taking into account all sensitivities, they think of raising Kürdi’s ratings,” he said. 

Kurdish voters played a pivotal rule in İmamoğlu’s victory in the Istanbul mayoral race on Sunday. The opposition politician received more than 800,000 more votes compared to his rival, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım. 

After Öcalan’s letter was made public, the HDP stated that the letter did not imply a strategy for the Istanbul rerun, but a political direction following the elections. The pro-Kurdish party on Wednesday announced that it had been establishing working groups to develop a roadmap for the party’s third-way strategy, which aims to promote democracy without siding with ruling and opposition blocs.