‘Terror suspect’ students discharged from prison
All 22 of the students from Boğaziçi, one of Turkey’s top universities, who are accused of spreading terrorist propaganda will be free for the duration of their trial, the presiding judge ruled on Wednesday.
The decision means that 14 of the students who have been held in pre-trial detention will be released.
That day, the students appeared at court for the first day of their trial for allegedly spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has pursued Kurdish self-rule through armed struggle in Turkey for over 30 years.
The students were arrested after allegedly taking part in protests against Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, northwest Syria, to fight Syrian Kurdish groups associated with the PKK.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a personal interest in the case, calling the anti-war student protesters “communists” and “traitors” and vowing to expel them from the university.
Fourteen of the students had been held in pre-trial detention since police arrested them last March in raids on students dorms, during which allegations of police brutality surfaced.
The decision for their release will come as a great relief to the detained students, one of whom had asked the judge to be released in time to register for summer school so he could graduate, said Ayla Jean Yackey, a journalist present during proceedings.
The Turkish government took a hard line against critics of its military activitie in Afrin, with a number of journalists and citizens arrested for opposing the operation.
Besides the Boğaziçi students, these included Ahval contributor Nurcan Baysal, who faces a possible three years in prison for anti-war tweets, and the senior board of the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), who were arrested after publishing a statement criticising the war.