Aberdeen University academic arrested in Turkey for criticising government

A Turkish lawyer who holds a PhD from Scotland’s Aberdeen University, was arrested on July 5 by police in Istanbul for speaking out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, Scottish newspaper Press and Journal reported.

Hanifi Baris could be put behind bars for up to four years for speaking out against Turkey’s strongman, the site said.

The Aberdeen University graduate uploaded a number of articles denouncing President Erdogan towards the end of June, when the Turkish leader announced victory following the country’s June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.

His academic colleagues at Aberdeen University have now launched a petition calling for his immediate release of Baris was due to return to the north-east in September as a keynote speaker at a convention of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law.

“Hanifi is a gifted, well-respected and dearly loved scholar and friend. We demand justice for our esteemed colleague,” his colleagues are quoted as saying.

Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North said she would call on the UK Government to put pressure on Turkey regarding the arrest and added: “No one should be arrested for expressing a non-violent political opinion or using social media to discuss politics in a civil manner.’’

The Turkish president is criticized for implementing the widest crackdown in Turkish history following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that has included the arrest of journalists and opposition.