Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Friday that the country’s intelligence agency and police arrested a Kurdish lawmaker carrying a fake passport when she was on her way from Istanbul to the northwest border province of Edirne.
Semra Güzel, a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was accompanied by a human trafficker, who is also engaged in terrorist propaganda, Soylu said in a tweet.
An arrest warrant was issued against Güzel in March, after she was stripped from her legislative immunity over pictures with a senior member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group who has waged an insurgency campaign mainly in Turkey’s southeast for almost four decades.
Güzel is among the 13 lawmakers of the HDP who have lost their parliamentary seats since 2016 over terrorism related charges. Thousands of HDP members, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, alongside deputies and mayors, are currently behind bars, while most of the remaining HDP lawmakers in parliament are at risk of losing their immunity.
Güzel, who is accused of being a member of a terrorist organisation, was arrested at a roadside restaurant in Silivri, outside Istanbul city centre, after the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT) received information that the female lawmaker was planning to leave the country, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) affiliated Sabah newspaper reported. The deputy had changed her hair colour and was carrying a fake passport issued under the name “Methtap Şahan”, it said.
HDP’s Woman Assembly said in a statement on Saturday that Güzel was stripped of her freedom by a dirty plot.
The lawmaker was referred to court in Istanbul to be officially arrested on Saturday morning.