Turkish work permit of British academic Chris Stephenson canceled after 18 years
Gülseven ÖZKAN - ISTANBULThe Turkish work permit of British academic Chris Stephenson has been canceled by the Higher Education Board (YÖK), 18 years after he first started working at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.
“There is no justification for canceling the work permit in the official statement that was issued. I will appeal the decision. It is not possible to accept this in a state of law,” said Stephenson, a lecturer in computer science.
Stephenson first came to prominence in 2016 upon signing the Academics for Peace petition criticizing the sweeping military operations in southeast Turkey.
He was taken into custody on suspicion of “conducting terrorist propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in March 2016 but was acquitted of all charges on June 23, 2016 during the first hearing of the case in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.
The academic was detained on March 15 in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse, where he was supporting three Turkish academics detained as part of a probe into signatories of a petition calling for an end to clashes between security forces and PKK militants in January. He was taken into custody upon a prosecutor’s instruction on accusations of making propaganda for a terror organization for possessing a Nevruz leaflet printed by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The leaflet, which featured pictures of masked people lighting fires and building barricades on the streets, were seized from Stephenson’s bag while he was entering the courthouse, the indictment stated.
It also said the leaflet showed PKK and Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) flags in a meeting area and were prepared by members of the PKK in support of the organization.
Based in Turkey for 25 years, Stephenson denied having any connection to a terrorist group.