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Turkey acquits Briton accused of making 'terror propaganda'

A Turkish court has acquitted a British scholar who had been accused of "making propaganda for a terrorist organisation".

Chris Stephenson, a computer science lecturer at Bilgi University, was deported from Turkey in March after being found with invitations for Kurdish New Year celebrations. He was later allowed to return to the country, where he rejoined his Turkish wife and daughter.

Mr Stephenson was among 1,000 scholars who signed a declaration denouncing military operations against Kurdish rebels in south-east Turkey. The declaration had angered Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and led to legal proceedings against some.

Mr Stephenson declared during his trial that: "Wanting peace is not a crime."

He also called for the release and acquittal of two journalists and another academic who were arrested this week after showing solidarity with a pro-Kurdish publication, Ozgur Gundem, which has been subjected to multiple investigations and lawsuits.

On Monday, a Turkish court placed Reporters Without Borders' Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu, journalist Ahmet Nesin and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci in pretrial arrest over charges of disseminating "terrorist propaganda".

The three had participated in a solidarity campaign that involved acting as chief editor for a day for the pro-Kurdish publication.

Turkey is witnessing a period of increased conflict between security forces and Kurdish rebels in the south-east, a dynamic that has contributed to increased political polarisation.


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