Leyla Güven: Turkey sentences Kurdish politician to 22 years in prison

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image captionLeyla Güven's legal team said they would appeal against the verdict

A court in Turkey has sentenced a prominent Kurdish opposition figure to 22 years in prison on terror charges.

Leyla Güven, of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), was convicted of membership of a terrorist group.

The former MP was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in June. She was not in court for the ruling and a warrant for her arrest has been issued, Turkish media reported.

The HDP said it would appeal against the sentence.

It described it as "a hostile act against all Kurds and the entire opposition".

Güven, 56, was an MP for the HDP and the co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress - an assembly of representatives from civil society organisations, political parties, lawyers and human rights defenders.

The Turkish government accuses the congress of being linked to the militant Kurdish PKK group, which has waged a bloody insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.

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image captionLeyla Güven spent months on hunger strike while in detention

Güven was detained in 2018 following critical remarks about Turkey's military operation in the predominantly Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria. She had labelled the military operation against a Syrian Kurdish armed group as "an invasion".

While in detention she went on hunger strike over the prison conditions of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been in a high-security jail in Turkey since 1999.

After nearly 80 days on hunger strike, a Turkish court ordered her release in January 2019 "under judicial control".

Güven's whereabouts after Monday's sentencing were not clear. However, police sources quoted by AFP news agency said she had been held during a search of a HDP lawmaker's home in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir and was being taken to prison.

In its statement, the HDP described Güven as "a person of struggle who dedicated her life to peace. She is a monument of honour".

In recent years the Turkish government has detained dozens of HDP leaders and local officials, accusing them of having links with the PKK.

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