Calls are growing for the release of a French academic who has been held in Turkey for nearly a month after protesting against the conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Mathematics professor Tuna Altinel had his passport confiscated after returning to Turkey to visit family and was arrested for allegedly promoting a terrorist organisation.
Professor Altinel was one of several hundred academics who signed a petition calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK.
The Turkish government considers the PKK a terrorist organisation and has stepped up its campaign against them in recent years after a ceasefire agreement broke down in 2015.
The PKK says they are fighting for an independent Kurdish state. Kurds control a semi-autonomous state in neighbouring Syria.
Professor Altinel is a member of the Friends of the Kurds campaign group based in Lyon but has never been involved in the armed conflict.
Gilles Lemee, from the organisation, told Euronews: “We have been punished for having participated in a perfectly legal meeting in France, a perfectly legal association, which did not ask [for] violent action, or to take up arms — but which presented wrongdoings that had been undertaken three years before, which we denounced.”
Protests against Professor Altinel’s detainment have continued in Lyon with many of his friends, colleagues and students joining the cause.
One friend, Christine Charreton, said: “I hope that the French government is going have a bit of tenacity to defend this public servant who was incarcerated for the opinions that he shared.”