Turkish court rejects European Court of Human Rights order to release opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş

ANKARA — On Saturday, a Turkish court refused to release former Co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş who has been in pretrial detention since 2016.

Although the European Court of Human Rights has called for his immediate release, the Turkish court refused. The Turkish judges justified their refusal by claiming they had not received a translation of the ECHR’s order, a claim which aroused ridicule of many concerned organizations and human rights defenders.

Shortly after the ECHR issued its ruling, its website was subjected to a cyberattack. Although court officials say no data was lost, they described this breach as a serious incident.

Ankara accuses Demirtaş of terrorism related activity. He faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted.

Demirtaş has been imprisoned in Turkey since November 2016. In its statement, the ECHR stressed that Demirtaş’s rights to express opinion, freedom, and other rights had been violated.