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More academics acquitted in Turkey, sparking cautious hope

A Turkish court ruling has led to the acquittal of 27 academics convicted and on trial over terror charges, but the shaken defendants are hesitant to believe the decision will stand and be extended to hundreds of their purged colleagues.
A demonstrator holds scarf reading "Do not touch my Academics" in front of the Justice Palace during first of a series of trials that will begin against a total of some 150 academics from public and private universities accused of spreading terrorist propaganda, in Istanbul, Turkey December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RC1A923E7380

It’s been more than three years since Ali Riza Gungen, an economics professor at 19 Mayis University in Samsun, Turkey, lost his job for signing a petition. He is one of the nearly 800 “Academics for Peace” who have faced charges of making terrorist propaganda for participating in the open letter calling for the end of military operations in southeast Turkey back in January 2016.

Like hundreds of other academics, Gungen was dismissed from his position, banned from working in public institutions and had his passport revoked, barring him from traveling abroad. Following a July ruling by the Constitutional Court, which found that the purged academics' freedom of speech had been violated, Gungen was among 27 defendants acquitted of all charges.

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