Former HDP MP released after 5 years in jail

(This article was updated to reflect Abdullah Zeydan's release)

A former member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was released on Friday after serving more than five years in prison,  Mezopotamya Agency reported.

Abdullah Zeydan was detained on terrorism charges in November 2016 alongside several other HDP parliamentarians including the party’s then co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.

Demirtaş, who shared a cell with Zeydan in the Edirne Prison, remains imprisoned despite rulings by the European Court of Human Rights for his release.

Turkey’s Court of Cassation overturned Zeydan’s initial conviction in May 2021, citing a violation of the Kurdish politician’s right to defence.

In the retrial, the prosecution demanded the same prison sentence, while Zeydan’s lawyers argued for release, saying the sentence of 8 years 1 month 15 days had been overturned.

While the court upheld the conviction, including 3 years 1 month and 15 days for terrorist propaganda and 5 years for aiding and abetting, it also ruled for Zeydan’s release due to time served.

Without being taken back to Edirne, Zeydan was freed in the eastern Elazığ province. Upon his release, he was greeted by HDP MPs Remziye Tosun and Alican Önlü, as well as a group of party supporters, Mezopotamya said.

Zeydan faced trial for speeches he gave on seven different occasions in the southeastern Şırnak and Hakkari provinces, including in meetings, press statements, rallies and funerals. The maximum sentence he could have received was 20 years in prison.

One comment that resulted in the terrorist propaganda charge was related to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting against Turkey for four decades.

“PKK will drown you in its spit,” Zeydan had said.

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