A jail sentence by a Turkish court for Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was upheld by an Istanbul appeal court on Monday.
Demirtaş, imprisoned since November 2016, was earlier sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison over a charge that he insulted the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an address he made in 24 December 2015 while he was still serving as an MP in the Turkish parliament.
One month after a Russian war plane was shot down by Turkish forces on 24 November 2015, Demirtaş said on his return from a visit to Russia:
“I’ll apologise if they can point out a single benefit that Turkey gained by shooting down the Russian plane. Millions of people have suffered losses due to that incident. People doing business in Russia, people in commerce, people doing imports and exports, those who have government contracts in that country, students and workers in Russia, people who sell their products, from the producers of citrus fruits to the shop owners in Laleli, they’ve all suffered losses.”
He then went on to say that the political administration of president Erdoğan was trying to cover up their own misdeeds by accusing the HDP.
“They cannot cover up their mistakes by using this rhetoric over and over again, ‘They betrayed the country and the people.’ The things you stole and the misdeeds you did to this country know no boundaries. Now they are trying to cover them all up by targeting us and by saying big things that they will eventually have to swallow.”
Soon after, Russia declared that it would likely take measures against Turkish companies operating in Russia and Turkey’s exports to Russia, and called upon its citizens – with the largest share in Turkey’s tourism revenues – to stop visiting Turkey, a U-turn by the Erdoğan administration followed, leading to the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems and to being expelled from the new generation F35 fighter aircraft program of the United States and NATO.