Turkish court acquits Dutch Kurdish politician on alleged terrorism charges

“He should never [have] been detained, just like a lot of other Dutch citizens that are not free and still detained.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Murat Memis, the faction leader of the Socialist Party (SP) in the Eindhoven city council, was acquitted on Tuesday of alleged “terrorism” charges and can now return to the Netherlands.

“Good news from Turkey: Murat Memis was acquitted,” Lilian Marijnissen, the SP leader, wrote on Twitter. Marijnissen had attended the trial.

The Dutch Ambassador and two Dutch lawyers were also present at the trial in Antalya, Turkey.

Memis, 31, was arrested on April 30 in Turkey. He was accused of being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). As a result, he was unable to leave the country.

Turkish authorities did not provide proof for the accusations.

The charges seemed to be linked to Memis’ social media activity where he supported and often retweeted accounts that back the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey accuses of being linked to the PKK. Moreover, he criticized Turkey’s attack on Afrin last year.

The court acquitted him on Saturday on charges of being a member of the PKK.

Sunita Biharie, an SP leader in the city of Apeldoorn, said she was delighted with the court’s decision.

“He should never [have] been detained, just like a lot of other Dutch citizens that are not free and still detained,” she told Kurdistan 24.

Memis is not the only Dutch citizen who has been arrested in Turkey. At least 19 other Dutch citizens cannot leave the country pending trial.

“I am super happy that he is free. But the battle is not over yet. The others should also go home!” Biharie stated.

Most of them are being prosecuted for being critical of the government or being involved with Kurdish politics.

In April, a Dutch-Kurdish woman and her 5-year-old daughter were jailed in Turkey for being “active” in the Kurdish community.

Until now, the Dutchgovernment prefers backdoor diplomacy instead of directly calling for their release.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told the Dutch Parliament last week that he was afraid such a policy would negatively affect Memis and other Dutch citizens.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany