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Jailed politician makes election speech via call to wife

June 6, 2018
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FILE - In this Friday, May 4, 2018 file photo, supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), some holding pictures of the party's former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas who is currently in prison on charges of leading a terror organisation, attend a rally announcing him as a presidential candidate in Istanbul. In an unusual election campaign, Turkey's jailed pro-Kurdish politician and presidential candidate on Wednesday June 6, 2018, has delivered a speech from his prison cell via a telephone call to his wife and other family members — a video of which was later broadcast on Twitter. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — In an unusual election campaign, a jailed pro-Kurdish politician and presidential candidate in Turkey has delivered a speech from his prison cell via a telephone call to his wife and other family members — a video of which was later broadcast on Twitter.

Selahattin Demirtas described himself in the Wednesday speech as a “political hostage,” devoid of the right to a fair trial. He asked for votes in Turkey’s June 24 snap presidential and parliamentary elections, saying “anti-democratic practices” had turned the country into one of the most “unhappy and pessimistic” societies.

The 45-year-old former human rights lawyer was arrested and imprisoned in 2016 for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

He faces a 142-year sentence on charges of leading a terror organization and other crimes. Demirtas denies wrongdoing.

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This story has been corrected to give the translation as “political hostage” rather than “prisoner”

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