London

London teenager 'used PKK to hide relationship with man'

A teenager accused of running away to fight with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claimed she lied to hide the fact she was travelling with a man.

Silhan Ozcelik, 18, told the Old Bailey that her family would have been more accepting of her political aspirations than her secret relationship.

Ms Ozcelik, from Holloway, London is accused of attempting to join a guerrilla army in 2014.

She denies preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

PKK, which is denounced as a terrorist group by UK authorities, is fighting against so-called Islamic State in Syria.

'Respect'

Ms Ozcelik left her parents' house for Brussels on a one-way Eurostar ticket in October 2014 and told the court that travelling with a man was "really shameful" in her community.

She said: "In the Kurdish community, if you say I'm joining the PKK, everyone will look up to you, they'll respect you. If you say you're going off with a boy, the situation changes."

After initially describing her family as "happy", the jury heard that Ms Ozcelik was not allowed out of the house after 17:00.

"I didn't have the freedom that a British girl would normally have," she said.

Oppressed

Ms Ozcelik wanted a relationship with a 28-year-old man called Mehmet, who she travelled to Holland and Germany with, the court heard.

She told the jury she initially "felt like an adult", but ended up doing the cooking and cleaning and was oppressed.

After speaking to her mother, she eventually decided to return home.

The jury heard of Ozcelik's enthusiasm for the PKK, making a collage of PKK leaders, Kurdish and Turkish socialists and Che Guevara as part of a school project.

She also admired the role of the PKK during Islamic State massacres, jurors heard.

The trial continues.

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