Istanbul court orders release of Boğaziçi University students in ‘terror propaganda’ trial
An Istanbul court on June 6 ordered the release of all suspects in a highly controversial trial of 22 students from the prestigious Boğaziçi University who protested on campus against Turkey’s military campaign in northern Syria.
Fourteen of the students were held in jail on charges of disseminating “terror propaganda” after their initial detention in March when police stormed dormitories at the university.
But after an emotionally-charged first trial hearing, the judge ordered the 10 young men and four young women to be released.
The order sparked scenes of jubilation in the packed courthouse, with families crying in jubilation and relief, an AFP correspondent said.
The other eight defendants had been free - but still charged - ahead of the trial on June 6.
All 22 now remain charged and under judicial supervision, which means they are subject to certain restrictions and should report to the authorities, Reuters reported.
The judge set the next hearing in the case for October 3 as the students were due to walk free later on June 6.
The accused face jail terms of up to five years if convicted on charges of propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 24 accused the students of behaving like “terrorists” after they were attacked by supporters of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” in the northern Syrian province of Afrin.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, took to Twitter regarding Erdoğan’s claims against the anti-war students.
“Anti-war protestors labeled ‘terrorists’ by President Erdoğan. Critical thinking dangerous endeavor in ‘new Turkey,’” Piri wrote on March 26.
Tension erupted on campus on March 19 as anti-war students clashed with students were distributing Turkish delight on campus in support of the military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants in Afrin.
The group staged a counter-rally, carrying a banner that read “Invasion, massacre cannot be marked with Turkish delight.”