Turkish presidential spox denies meeting between gov’t and imprisoned PKK leader Öcalan

Turkish Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has denied the reports that a government delegation had held meetings with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island during the election campaign process.

This file photo shows Turkish Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın

Duvar English

Turkish Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on April 26 refused the reports that a government delegation had held meetings with jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Speaking in the Century of Turkish Foreign Policy panel, Kalın said “I would like to express that this claim is a clear lie. These are the claims made by certain circles to gain a political advantage. It is not possible for them to get a result from this. There was no meeting.”

“It is a claim to cast a shadow over the highly effective and successful campaign efforts of our President (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan). It has nothing to do with reality. The main purpose of those who try to present themselves as representatives of Kurdish citizens is to legitimize the PKK terrorist organization,” Kalın said according to reporting by Demirören News Agency.

Kalın’s remarks came after journalist Amed Dicle on April 10 argued that “There was a meeting with Mr. Abdullah Öcalan in this period of election atmosphere. When they (the government) could not get the answer they wanted, his isolation was aggravated and disciplinary punishment was given. Indirectly, they also tried to contact Kandil,” referring to the mountain region in which the PKK maintains many of its key camps in northern Iraq.

Jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on April 25 shared Dicle’s remarks and asked “What do you think Erdoğan wanted by sending a delegation to İmralı? When he couldn't get what he wanted, he started accusing us of collaborating with 'terrorism' again. I leave this hypocrisy to your discretion.”

The last time Öcalan was allowed to see his lawyers was on Aug. 7, 2019 after being unable to meet with them for eight years. Since then, lawyers have filed more than a hundred petitions to see their clients, but they were all turned down.

As for his family, Öcalan was allowed to talk with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on March 25, 2021 on the phone. This was the last time that he held contact with a family member.

Öcalan was arrested in 1999 and is serving a life sentence on İmralı Island located in the south of the Sea of Marmara.