Kurdish deputy Semra Güzel arrested, referred to court

Semra Güzel, a Kurdish deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested on Friday evening as she was leaving Istanbul, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced in a tweet.

“Güzel was captured in a successful operation by the [National Intelligence Service] and Istanbul police as she was travelling towards Edirne,” Soylu said. According to the minister, the deputy was accompanied by a “migrant trafficker and terrorist propagandist named A.G.”, and had counterfeit travel documents on her person.

State-run Anadolu agency reported two men in the car with Güzel, Aladdin G., who had priors for trafficking, forgery and trespassing, and Fırat D., who had one for terrorist propaganda.

Güzel’s lawyers told reporters that pro-government media reports that she was detained in Edirne, Turkey’s westernmost province that shares a border with Greece and Bulgaria, were false and that she had not been wearing a disguise.

The deputy was not allowed to meet with her lawyers until late at night, they said.

Güzel was referred to court on Saturday morning, Mezopotamya Agency reported. The deputy is currently at the Istanbul court house, waiting to testify to the Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office via its Istanbul counterpart.

HDP’s women’s organisation the Women’s Assemblies said Soylu had deliberately targeted Güzel, “usurping her freedom via another filthy plot”.

Güzel was stripped of her immunity in March, upon a demand by a court in the capital to charge her with membership in a terrorist organisation and financing terrorism.

Charges against the deputy stem from a 2014 visit to an encampment of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a peace process and ceasefire, before she was elected to parliament in 2018.

Photos were leaked to the press of Güzel and a PKK member, who she later revealed to have been engaged to. In a statement Güzel said visits to PKK encampments were permitted at the time for people who had relatives and loved ones in the mountains, as part of a softened atmosphere under the peace process. She denied any involvement with the armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy for four decades.

Güzel and Volkan Bora were engaged to be married before he joined the PKK, and the pair lost contact when he did, she said. Bora was killed in clashes in northern Iraq in 2017.

An arrest warrant was issued for the deputy later in the month.

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