Turkish court orders release of academic on hunger strike

An Ankara court sentenced to prison hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen, but released her pending appeal
Friday, 01 December 2017 20:59

An Ankara court on Friday sentenced to prison hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen, who has been on hunger strike for months to protest about losing her job in the government's purge since a failed coup attempt last year, but released her pending appeal.

Gülmen was sentenced to six years and three months in jail for being a member of the militant leftist DHKP-C group, deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey. She was found not guilty of lesser charges including organising illegal rallies.

Authorities transferred Gülmen into intensive care in September but her family said this was against her will. Gülmen has been released from the hospital.

The court acquitted two of three defendants. Two of the defendants in the case, academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça, have been on hunger strike over their sacking by government decree under the state of emergency imposed after last year's attempted overthrow of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Turkish government targeted them because of their protest and hunger strike.

Both deny any links to DHKP-C.

A third defendant, Acun Karadağ, was acquitted on a lesser charge of participating in illegal rallies. He took part in rallies in Ankara along with the hunger strikers.

Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça

Özakça was released on October 20 but was ordered to remain at home and only allowed outside for any approved hospital visits or to attend court hearings.

Gülmen and Özakça have been on the hunger strike for more than 250 days. They have been surviving on salted or sugared water, herbal teas and vitamin B1, and doctors have described their condition as "dangerously weak."