ANKARA, Turkey, March 3 (UPI) -- Turkey's prime minister said no amnesty is planned for members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a sectarian group waging a guerilla campaign against the state.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is conducting peace talks with the group, known as the PKK. Today's Zaman said rumors have swirled that Erdogan was considering some for of amnesty for the group's estimated 7,000 members in southern Turkey. (Thousands more live over the border in mountainous northern Iraq.)
Erdogan sought to tamp down the speculation.
"A general amnesty will not happen by any means. I have stated this several times before. I do not consider myself eligible to pardon a man who killed innocent people," said the prime minister on Sunday. "If a man committed a crime against the state, the state may pardon him. But if a man killed a man, then the state does not have the authority to pardon the killer."
Erdogan also called out a Turkish newspaper for publishing leaked transcripts of a meeting between PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and government leaders discussing the peace process. It was speculated the transcripts were leaked to sway public opinion against a peaceable solution to the conflict.
"Please do not give credit to dark operations through media, traps and ill-intentioned news reports during this process," Erdogan said of a report that appeared in the Milliyet daily newspaper.