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European court raps Turkey over detention of Iranian

STRASBOURG, France — Agence France-Presse | 7/14/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned Turkey for having held an Iranian activist for nearly two years, even though he had won refugee status months earlier.

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned Turkey for having held an Iranian activist for nearly two years, even though he had won refugee status months earlier.

The man, now 26, had been an active communist and student activist in Iran and said he had fled the country after many of his fellow students involved in similar activities were arrested and imprisoned in 2007.

He entered Turkey illegally in early 2008 and was arrested in April the same year.

Although the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR granted him refugee status in March 2009 and Sweden had agreed to receive him as such, the Turkish authorities held him at two detention centers for foreigners until February 2010, the court noted.

And as he tried to launch a legal defense, the plaintiff's lawyer was barred from entering the detention center to visit him.

Turkey had also intended to deport him back to Iran and the European court had to serve Ankara with a ruling in July 2008 blocking any such move.

The court ruling condemned Turkey for unlawful detention and for the slow handling of the plaintiff's legal challenge to his detention.

It also ruled that there was no justification for denying him access to his lawyer.

The judges ordered Ankara to pay him 11,000 euros in damages.

The plaintiff is now living in Sweden.

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