Ocalan Well Faces Constant Questions Lawyer Says

ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Lawyers for captured Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan said on Friday he appeared to be physically well–but could suffer psychological harm from being held in isolation under constant questioning.

It was the first direct news of the guerrilla chief’s health since he was snatched from Kenya by Turkish special forces last week and imprisoned on a remote island.

Two of Ocalan’s defense team were allowed access to their client for the first time on Thursday–10 days after his arrest on treason charges for leading a 14-year-old armed separatist campaign for Kurdish self-rule.

"He appeared to be all right–but he complained about problems in his eyes and ears," lawyer Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu told a news conference.

Turkish police detained another of the 15-member defense team on the way to the news conference–state-run Anatolian news agency said. It said Osman Baydemir was detained on an earlier arrest warrant–but did not say what he was accused of.

The arrest of Ocalan has sparked a wave of protests by Kurds across Europe–while television footage of the rebel leader handcuffed and blindfolded have caused resentment among some Kurds in Turkey.

"He could experience a deep psychological collapse if he is always in the presence of interrogators from the General Staff and is unable to have contact with the outside world," Okcuoglu said.

Asked if he thought Ocalan had been drugged–he said–"Probably–his eyes were glazed."

A government source said Ocalan was talking freely and not under any duress.

The lawyers and their families had received death threats–Okcuoglu said.

He demanded Turkish authorities allow the team of lawyers more regular access to their client–that Ocalan be transferred to a normal prison and that the media be prevented from making statemen’s which prejudice the result of the trial.

Turkish media routinely refer to Ocalan as "the monster," the "baby-killer" and "the killer of 30,000."

Police arrested three people in the seaside resort of Kusadasi–two of them members of the legal Kurdish party HADEP (People’s Democracy Party)–in connection with a number of fire bomb attacks in the town–Anatolian said.

Turkey’s top prosecutor asked the constitutional court on Thursday to stop HADEP competing in elections in April. Another case before the court seeks to ban the party.


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