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‘2,000 Turkish Academics Signed Petition for Peace Process’

© REUTERS / Sertac KayarRiot police use a water cannon to disperse stone throwing Kurdish demonstrators during a protest against the curfew in Sur district, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, December 22, 2015
Riot police use a water cannon to disperse stone throwing Kurdish demonstrators during a protest against the curfew in Sur district, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, December 22, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Turkey has deported a British academic over a ‘terror propaganda’ claim after he spent 25 years living and working in Ankara. Radio Sputnik got in touch with the academic in an exclusive interview.

An employee of Zaman newspaper holds a chain during a protest at the courtyard of the newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey March 4, 2016. - Sputnik International
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On Tuesday, local media reported that computer science lecturer Chris Stephenson was detained in Istanbul and deported to London. He was also one of more than one thousand academics who recently signed a petition criticizing Ankara’s military action in the country’s southeast.

Stephenson’s arrest and departure came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that it is necessary to redefine terrorism.

On Monday, Erdogan said that there was no difference between, “a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims” of terrorists. According to the Turkish president, this could be a journalist, a lawmaker or an activist. The statement came a day after a bomb attack in the Turkish capital Ankara killed 37 people.

Radio Sputnik got in touch with Chris Stephenson to discuss his situation and Turkey’s policy toward terrorism.

“I am not at all happy to be in London because my family is back in Turkey. My wife is Turkish and my 13-year-old daughter and I am very unhappy not being allowed to live in Turkey. I intend to resist through all the legal terms.”

He spoke about how he was not distributing any leaflets but on the contrary the invitation cards were found in his bag when he went to the court house to visit his friends who were there because they signed a petition calling for peace.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. - Sputnik International
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Stephenson said that he has not been dismissed from the university where he worked and that yesterday he gave lessons to his students via Skype.

He spoke about the peace petition that some 2,000 academics in Turkey signed because there was a peace process. “It represented a great hope for Turkey and for that we have to thank people on all sides including people in the present government who are prepared to sit down at the table and seek an end to arm struggle and return to democratic politics.”

The academic spoke about how this peace process was sadly abandoned and this signing of the peace process by the academics was an effort to return to that process.

“It was treated as support of terrorism and that is quite wrong. Things that are being said now are quite wrong.”

He further spoke about his life in Turkey and how despite the tension in the country he felt committed to Turkey, its people and his students.

Talking about the current statements of Erdogan, Stephenson said, “This is a return to the ideas that were prevalent in Turkey in the 90’s or 80’s. I think they would now change the law, the definition of terrorism to include any form of expression of some idea which might be a common idea within an organization which is deemed to be a terrorist organization. This would definitely cut off debate in Turkey and make it much much more difficult to return to the path of peaceful political struggle rather than arm struggle which is now dominating the agenda on both sides and which is not a solution.”

He further spoke about the steps he is taking to go back to Turkey. “I will take this to the highest level to try and get this decision reversed. My legal struggle to return to Turkey is an expression of peace that I would continue to work for.”

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