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EU, Turkey face off over jailed Kurdish politician

Europe’s top human rights court ordered Turkey to free Selahattin Demirtas, a popular Kurdish politician held for two years for his speeches. In an interview before the ruling, he said the European Union is defending its own values by speaking out for him.
A garbage collector walks past election posters for Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Turkey's main pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) jailed former leader and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas in Istanbul, Turkey, June 19, 2018. Left poster reads, "Turkey requires a strong leader". Right poster reads, "It changes with you".  REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir - RC1A01DA8990

An international court this week ordered Turkey to free an opposition politician, ruling his prolonged detention in Turkey was politically motivated and harmed pluralism. But Selahattin Demirtas remains behind bars after the country’s strongman leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rebuffed the court, threatening a confrontation with Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said keeping Demirtas in prison for two years during dozens of trials on terrorism charges violated three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Erdogan promptly shot back, saying Turkey was not obliged to implement the decision, even though it is a signatory to the treaty, which says the Strasbourg-based court’s rulings are binding.

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