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Second incarceration in a week: Peace academic Tuna Altinel arrested in Balikesir

Photo by Bianet

Following the first court-approved imprisonment of a Peace signatory, Professor Fusun Ustel, on May 8, 2019, the relentless expansion of arbitrary practices and crushing repression of freedom of speech as well as basic rights has intensified in Turkey.

On May 11, 2019, Ahmet Tuna Altinel, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Lyon and a signatory of the Peace Letter, was arrested in Balikesir as per the 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) due to a conference he attended in France, in which he was not a speaker.

Altinel’s Turkish passport was confiscated at the Istanbul airport last month. He was taken into custody on May 10 at the Balikesir office of Civil Registry, where he had gone to inquire about the restriction imposed on his passport. His lawyer underlined the arbitrariness of Altinel’s detention and stated that “Professor Altinel would have been arrested a month ago at the airport, when his passport was confiscated.” The official grounds for his incarceration provided today are that he took part in an event organized by an association of solidarity with the Kurdish people in Lyon on February 28, 2019, at which an MP in exile from the opposition party HDP was also in attendance. As Altinel’s lawyer stated, Altinel was not a contributor at the aforementioned event, but simply part of audience.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide expresses solidarity with the thousands of Turkish academics who are facing criminal charges as a result of their peaceful activities and the exercise of their freedom of speech. We condemn the Turkish government’s actions, which irreversibly harm the entire educational community by undermining universities’ abilities to meet scientific and ethical standards as well as to fulfill intellectual, educational, social, and institutional responsibilities.


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