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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Former Kurdish MP seeks political asylum in Greece

Leyla Birlik illegally crossed the border between Turkey and Greece

Leyla Birlik, a former lawmaker from pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP. AP
Leyla Birlik, a former lawmaker from pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP. AP

A former Turkish parliamentarian from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has requested asylum in Greece, according to a Greek police source.

Leyla Birlik crossed the border between Turkey and Greece in violation of conditional prison release terms.

She surrendered herself to Greek authorities in the north east town of Alexandroupolis, local police said.

During her time as an MP for the HDP, Ms Birlik represented Sirnak province in the Kurdish majority southeast of Turkey, bordering Iraq and Syria.

The 44-year-old was arrested in November 2016, with 13 other HDP MPs, on charges of “making terror propaganda” as well as being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been designated a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

She was released in January 2017 under judicial control and placed under an overseas travel ban.

Hundreds of Turkish citizens have sought asylum in Greece since the government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a crackdown on people allegedly involved with the failed 2016 coup.

Athens has refused to extradite eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece in a military helicopter the day after the coup, arguing they would not face a fair trial. Ankara has demanded they be returned to Turkey.

The fresh row over Ms Bilik's asylum claim is likely to put a further strain on already fraught relations between the two countries.

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