Five students face years in prison for following HDP's Demirtas on Twitter


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SULAIMANI – Turkish authorities have brought "terrorism" charges against five students from Turkey’s Amasya University on the basis of their social media activity, which included following the Twitter account of Selahattin Demirtas.

The students face up to five years in prison on charges related to the accounts and pages they followed on Facebook and Twitter, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Among the accounts followed by the students was the Twitter account belonging to Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Police reportedly found no physical evidence connecting the students to terrorism after searching their homes, but decided to bring the case forward on the basis of the students' use of social media.

Ahval reported that charges against the five included “sharing posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter to legitimize or encourage violent methods of armed terrorist organizations."

Reportedly they had shared “Kurdish music videos, [followed] Facebook pages of the shuttered İMC television and pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper, and [followed] the Twitter accounts of the former HDP deputies Selahattin Demirtaş, Ferhat Encü, Faysal Sarıyıldız, and İdris Baluken.”

Demirtas has been held in the Edirne Prison since November 2016. He is charged with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted. Demirtas has denied the charges.

There are more than 30 cases filed against Demirtas mostly for the crime of insult to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or making propaganda of a “terrorist organization” for his public speeches.

He ran from prison in June's Presidential election, coming in third.