Turkish professor of French university stranded in Istanbul after passport confiscated

Tuna Altınel, a Turkish mathematician who is employed at Claude Bernard University in the French city of Lyon, is stranded in Istanbul after Turkey refused to return his travel documents, France 24 said.

The 55-year-old professor was detained in Turkey in the summer of 2019 after he arrived on holiday, on charges of terrorist propaganda, of which he was acquitted in Jan. 2020. Altınel said that his passport was not returned and he has since learned that the authorities have started a new investigation against him, France 24 reported, citing a statement to Agence France-Presse.

“I am a hostage of the Turkish state,” said Altınel, who has lived and taught in France for 25 years.

Altınel spent time in pre-trial detention between May and July 2019 after he acted as an interpreter at a pro-Kurdish event in France earlier that year.

The Turkish authorities had also targeted the professor in 2016 after he signed a petition entitled ‘We will not be a party to this crime’. Altınel was one of a 2,000-strong group who called themselves Academics for Peace and urged Turkey to end military operations in Kurdish-majority city and town centres. He was acquitted of propaganda charges over the petition, along with several other high-profile signatories.