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Woman in court for alleged PKK ties

A WOMAN accused of terrorism-related activity is set to appear at the Old Bailey today in the first trial involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in more than a decade.

Shilan Ozcelik was arrested in January for allegedly attempting to join the PKK, designated a terrorist group by Britain in 2001.

The 18-year-old from Highbury, north London, is charged with “engaging in conduct in preparation to and for giving an effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism” under the Terrorism Act 2006.

Ms Ozcelik has been held on remand since March in Holloway Prison after she was arrested at Stansted Airport while returning from Syria on suspicion of travelling to fight against the so-called Islamic State (Isis).

She is also accused of attempting to join the Women’s Protection Units of the PKK.

Ms Ozcelik and her family claimed that she had gone to Syria to be an aid worker.

The Kurdish community in Britain criticised the charge as a “blatant example of selective and political criminalisation.”

“We know that Shilan has never committed any act of violence and poses no threat to the people of this country.

“As such, we reiterate our call for the charges against her to be dropped,” the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign said in a statement.

“We reject this labelling of the PKK (as terrorist), which we believe confuses the Kurdish people’s legitimate struggle for self-determination with terrorism and has the effect of criminalising anyone in the Kurdish community who is part of peaceful political activity.”

Turkey broke a ceasefire with the PKK last month after a strong showing by Kurdish political party HDP in recent elections.

lamiatsabin@peoples-press.com

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