Academics Call for Release of Üstel and Altınel

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Prof. Üstel was the first academic to be sent behind bars in the trial of academics. Assoc. Prof. Altınel, also among the Academics for Peace, was sent to prison in a different case. Both academics made an individual application to the Constitutional Court.

The University Instructors’ Association (ÜNİVDER) released a statement, calling the top court to release the two academics. The statement briefly said the following:

“Prof. Dr. Z. Üstel has been in jail for 66 days. Applications to the prison administration for her transfer to an open prison and provisions of probation to be applied have been rejected.

“This decision is against the law. Füsun Üstel, a member of our association, is a signatory of a declaration that is within the scope of freedom of expression.

“As the ÜNİVDER, we announce to the public that we are in solidarity with our colleague Füsun Üstel. We call the Constitutional Court and the Ministry of Justice for duty to end the rights violations against Prof. Üstel.

“As the ÜNİVDER, we announce to the public that we are in solidarity with Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel and we will not leave him alone. We will be with Tuna Altnıel in the hearing that will take place at the Balıkersir Courthouse on July 30, 2019.

“We strongly condemn that Tuna Altınel’s passport was unlawfully confiscated and he was arrested. Release Tuna Altınel immediately.”

What happened?

On April 4, 2018, Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) for having signed the peace declaration.

The penalty of Prof. Dr. Üstel was not deferred by the İstanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court on the ground that she did not demand the deferment of announcement of the verdict and did not make “a statement of penitence.”

Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel from the Department of Mathematics at Lyon-1 University was arrested in Turkey’s western province of Balıkesir on May 11, 2019 on the ground of a conference held in France. Altınel was taken into custody on May 10, when he he went to the Balıkesir Civil Registry to inquire about the restriction imposed on his passport. Being referred to court on duty by the Prosecutor’s Office to be arrested, the academic was arrested and sent to Kepsut Type L Prison.