First Published: 2017-10-20

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike
Lawyer of hunger-striking teachers says Semih Ozakca due to be released Friday but academic Nuriye Gulmen will remain in prison.
Middle East Online

Hunger-striking pair have become symbol of biggest purge in Turkey's history.

ANKARA - A Turkish court on Friday ordered the release of a teacher on a hunger strike since March to protest his dismissal in a crackdown after last year's failed coup, his lawyer said.

Semih Ozakca was due to be released later Friday but the academic Nuriye Gulmen -- also on hunger strike to protest her sacking -- will remain in prison, their lawyer Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu said.

The two launched a protest in central Ankara last year after they were fired by government decree under a state of emergency imposed after the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They begun the hunger strike a few months later.

The teachers were arrested in May on charges of belonging to the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which has carried out sporadic attacks in recent years.

It is blacklisted as a "terror" group by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.

Ozakca and Gulmen face up to 20 years in jail if convicted for charges that include making propaganda for a terrorist organisation.

The pair say the charges are fabricated.

Lawyer Eminagaoglu said Ozakca would have to remain at home, only allowed outside for any approved hospital visits or to attend court hearings.

He will have to wear an electronic tag, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Eminagaoglu said the court in Sincan, outside Ankara, also ordered a new statement to be taken from Gulmen.

The pair have become a symbol of the biggest purge in the country's history and figure among over 140,000 public sector workers including judges, civil servants and police officers suspended or sacked since July 2016.

At least 50,000 people have been also arrested in the ensuing crackdown that has been criticised by Ankara's Western allies.

Fears remain over the health of the hunger strikers, who are only consuming salty or sugary water, herbal tea and vitamin B1.

In September, Turkish authorities transferred Gulmen into intensive care but her family said this was against her will.

The next hearing will be on November 17, Eminagaoglu said.


At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran supreme leader 'new Hitler'

Syrian opposition agrees to send united delegation to Geneva talks

Saudi-led coalition clears passenger flights to Sanaa

Baghdad's Shabandar cafe marks century since opening

Turkey says Trump pledged to stop arming Kurds

Turkey president sues main opposition party leader

Lebanon's Hariri brings status quo back with him

Activists say 'everybody knew' about Libya slave trade

Erdogan says no contact 'at the moment' with Assad

Lebanon's Jumblatt criticises Saudi Arabia, Iran

China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

Turkey to detain 79 former teachers in post-coup probe

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home