Turkish juridical officials are to hand down a five-year jail sentence to a British university lecturer on charges of spreading “terror propaganda” for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish prosecutors have brought criminal indictment against Chris Stephenson, a computer sciences lecturer who works at Bilgi university in Istanbul, and he would be most likely given a jail sentence of between one and five years, Dogan news agency reported.
Stephenson was arrested on March 15 after Turkish authorities alleged that he was carrying brochures in support of the PKK, accusing the Cambridge graduate of “making propaganda of a terror organization.”
The British scholar, in return, has disrupted the charges, arguing that he was detained only after he was found with a bilingual Newroz (Persian and Kurdish new year) celebration invitation with the signature of the provincial presidency of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, also known as the HDP.
Stephenson, who has lived in Turkey for 25 years, is a staunch supporter of four Turkish academics, who signed a petition late last year and denounced the Turkish government’s campaign against the PKK.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in return, dismissed the petition and said it helps the PKK militants “achieve their goals.”
“It might be the terrorist who pulls the trigger and detonates the bomb, but it is these supporters and accomplices who allow that attack to achieve its goal,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials are to deport a Finnish author from Turkey over alleged “links to terrorism.”
Taina Niemela was detained in the restive eastern Turkish province of Van on April 28 after she attended a funeral for a slain PKK member.
A ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015 and attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
President Erdogan said earlier this month that 355 members of the Turkish security forces and over 5,000 Kurdish militants have been killed in operations against the outlawed group.
Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq and Syria.
The operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.