British academic detained by Istanbul police over ‘PKK propaganda’
ISTANBULA British academic has been taken into custody on suspicion of making propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), after distributing leaflets inviting people to Nevruz holiday celebrations on March 21.
Chris Stephenson, a lecturer in computer science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, was taken into custody in Istanbul on March 15, after he went to the Istanbul Police Department in a show of support for three Turkish academics detained on March 14. The three academics had been detained in relation to an investigation into signatories of a petition calling for an end to clashes between security forces and PKK militants in January, and they were set to appear at court on March 15.
“We are aware of the detention of a British national and we are providing consular assistance,” officials from the British Embassy in Ankara told the Hürriyet Daily News on March 15.
Stephenson was taken to the Istanbul Police Department upon a prosecutor’s instruction on accusations of “making propaganda of a terror organization,” as leaflets he distributed included messages and pictures aimed at making PKK propaganda, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The case into the petition was opened after 1,128 academics from 89 different universities - including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein - signed a declaration titled “We won’t be part of this crime,” which called on Ankara to end the “massacre and slaughter” in southeastern Turkey.
Universities and prosecutor’s offices across the country subsequently opened probes into many of the 1,128 Turkish and foreign academics and intellectuals who fall within the Turkish state’s jurisdiction, arguing that the petition exceeded the limits of academic freedom.