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Turkish court convicts Kurdish politician for speech

Pro-Kurdish former lawmaker Leyla Zana attends a gathering to celebrate Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring, in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir in this March 21, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/Files

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Kurdish politician Leyla Zana, a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was sentenced to three years in prison by a Turkish court Thursday, the latest in a series of convictions against her for spreading terrorist propaganda.

State-run Anatolian news agency said she was convicted by the court in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir for speeches she made at a Kurdish political congress and a protest meeting in 2008.

Zana and her lawyer did not attend the hearing. They were not immediately available to comment on the verdict.

Courts in Turkey have imposed a series of prison sentences on Zana in recent years under anti-terrorism laws, but she is still at liberty as these cases are at the appeal stage.

She drew international attention in 1994 when she was convicted by a state security court of having links to the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group after she spoke in Kurdish at her parliamentary oath ceremony.

She was released in 2004 after Turkey’s appeals court overturned her conviction.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK since the rebels took up arms in 1984.

Zana was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1990s and was awarded the 1995 European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Noah Barkin