Jailed hunger-striking educator Semih Özakça released on probation

Jailed hunger-striking educator Semih Özakça released on probation

Jailed hunger-striking educator Semih Özakça released on probation

A court in Ankara on Oct. 20 ordered the conditional release of jailed hunger-striking educator Semih Özakça but ordered fellow hunger-striker Nuriye Gülmen to remain in prison.

The two are being tried on terror charges and started their hunger strike after being dismissed from their posts in a state of emergency decree.

The hearing at Ankara’s 19th High Criminal Court saw the participation of Özakça and fellow defendant Acun Karadağ, but Gülmen was absent due to health problems related to her hunger-strike.

Following the release demand of their lawyers, the court ordered the release of Özakça in its interim decision, citing his health problems, on the condition that he wears an electronic bracelet in house arrest.

However, it ordered the continuation of Gülmen’s arrest in line with what it called “concrete evidence” regarding charges she faces and witness accounts.

Gülmen, a literature professor, along with Özakça, a primary school teacher, began a sit-in protest in Ankara’s central Kızılay neighborhood on Nov. 9, 2016 before starting a hunger strike on March 9 in protest at being dismissed from their jobs with decrees issued under the state of emergency, declared after Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt.

They were then arrested on May 23 on charges of being “members of an armed terrorist organization,” “violating the law on demonstrations and meetings” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” facing sentences of up to 20 years in jail.

Their joint hunger-strike had entered its 225th day on Oct. 20.