Eindhoven politician held in Turkey

The SP faction leader in the Eindhoven city council is being held in Turkey. Murat Memis was arrested and spent four days in jail. He was then released, but he is not allowed to leave Turkey while awaiting trial, Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma informed the city council on Tuesday evening, NOS reports.

The SP city councilor is suspected of membership to the PKK, involvement in activities for the European branch of the PKK, and making propaganda for a terrorist organization, the mayor said, stressing that no formal charges have been laid against the Dutch politician as of yet. The PKK fights for more Kurdish autonomy. It is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. 

Memis, who is of Kurdish origin, landed in Antalya on April 28th for business. He was arrested in a restaurant in the Turkish city two weeks later. The news of his detainment was therefore kept silent for nearly six weeks. That is because it was decided to give Memis "no greater status than is due", the mayor said. Jorritsma described him as a "respected councilor in this city, but not part of the core of the national SP". The intention was to not make Memis look more important than he is, to prevent him from facing further trouble.

The Dutch politician was interrogated multiple times without a having a lawyer present, something that happens often in Turkey, according to the broadcaster. He asked the police to contact the Dutch embassy in Ankara, but this request was initially ignored. Memis was eventually able to get into contact with the embassy himself, after which he was assigned a lawyer. He is now in the city of Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, where he is awaiting trial.

Correspondent Lucas Waagmeester managed to get a look at the case against Memis and told NOS that the evidence is mainly based on social media. This includes Memis retweeting tweets by Kurdish activists in Europe, posts showing that he was present at Kurdish meetings, and images that show the flags of the Syrian-Kurdish militia YPG, which Turkey is fighting. Memis is also accused of actively "recruiting in Europe", but it is unclear what this means and there is no supporting evidence, the correspondent said. It is also stated that he is a member of a "Kurdish center", with no further information on that. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing Memis with assistance "where necessary and possible", according to NOS. When asked about whether Memis can expect a fair trial in Turkey, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said to NOS: "It is not for nothing that we're following that very critically. We have seen examples where that was not the case, but of course we also have to assess each specific case for whether or not it is so." 



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