Turkish academics released after detention for ‘terrorist propaganda’

Turkish academics released after detention for ‘terrorist propaganda’

KOCAELİ - Doğan News Agency
Turkish academics released after detention for ‘terrorist propaganda’

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Some 24 academics who signed a petition calling for an end to military operations in southeast Turkey were released late on Jan. 15 after being detained for a short period by police in the northwestern provinces of Kocaeli and Bolu. 

Universities and prosecutor’s offices across the country have launched probes into many of the 1,128 local and international academics and intellectuals who fall within Turkey’s jurisdiction, arguing that the petition went beyond the limits of academic freedoms.

In a dawn operation in the northwestern province of Kocaeli on Jan. 15, police raided the houses of academics and detained 21. In Bursa, police detained three academics on the same charges.

On Jan. 15, the Anatolian, Istanbul and Bakırköy chief public prosecutors also launched investigations into at least 123 academics employed by universities in Istanbul. The Anadolu public prosecutor initiated probes into 82 academics and Bakırköy into 41 academics; the Istanbul public prosecutor did not disclose the number of investigations.

A number of signatory academics employed by universities outside of Istanbul are also facing charges, with the public prosecutor’s offices in Bartın, Diyarbakır, Kayseri, Mardin and Samsun also announcing that probes would be launched into academics who have signed the petition. It remains unclear exactly how many academics outside of Istanbul are being investigated by prosecutors. 

According to reports, some of the academics are being investigated on suspicion of violating the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, according to which it is illegal to “insult the Turkish nation, the state of the Turkish Republic, or the Grand Assembly of Turkey and the state’s judicial institutions.” The academics are also accused of “terrorist propaganda” and of “inciting hatred and enmity.”

At least 41 academics are facing, among other punishments, suspension and dismissal from their universities. This figure does not include the “group of” academics who have been announced as being dismissed by Çukurova University and Gediz University.

The investigations and detentions came soon after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the petition’s signatories, stating that human rights violations in the southeast are being committed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and not the Turkish state.