Jailed PKK leader visit ban lifted, Turkey’s justice minister says

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has lifted a ban on lawyers visiting jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on Thursday, two weeks after the first such visit was allowed since 2011. Ocalan is the founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and has been imprisoned on an island near Istanbul since he was captured in 1999. Turkey, the United States and European Union designate the PKK as a terrorist group. “The decisions regarding a ban on visits has been lifted, providing for the possibility of visits,” Gul told reporters in comments broadcast on Turkish television. The pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) say some 3,000 people, mostly prison inmates, have joined a hunger strike started by HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven to protest Ocalan’s isolation. It was not immediately clear whether the latest move would lead to an end of the hunger strike.

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