Briton ‘Deported’ From Turkey After 25 Years

An academic married to a Turk is ordered to leave, allegedly for possessing an invitation to Kurdish New Year celebrations.

<img src=”×116.png” class=”image__item ” alt=”Chris Stephenson” />

Mr Stephenson is escorted to the plane. Pic: Dogan News Agency

A computer scientist who has lived in Turkey for 25 years claims he is being deported for being in possession of an invitation to Kurdish New Year celebrations.

Chris Stephenson, an academic at Bilgi University in Istanbul, says he was summarily dismissed after he visited a courthouse to support three scholars charged with terrorism offences.

Speaking moments before his departure from Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, he said there was “no offence, no trial, just an administrative decision to deport me after 25 years of residency in Turkey … this is very scary and wrong”.

He later tweeted: “I am being deported at the airport. Tomorrow an application will be submitted to the administrative court for my return.”

There was no immediate comment from Turkish officials.

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was providing assistance to a British national arrested on Tuesday.

Mr Stephenson’s lawyer said his client had been resident in Turkey since 1991, is married to a Turk and has a 13-year-old daughter.

He was one of more than 1,000 academics who recently signed a petition criticising military action in the southeast.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would “redefine” terrorism and terrorists so that legal action could be undertaken against anyone supporting terrorism, including academics and journalists.

The next day, three Turkish scholars were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Mr Stephenson said the invitations in his bag were issued by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.

A reference to Kurdish self-determination as well as a small picture of a barricade were deemed by the prosecutor to constitute terror propaganda, he said.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch, said she was appalled at the prospect of a widening of the definition of terrorism.

“It completely violates Turkey’s international obligations and law,” she said

More than 40,000 people have been killed since 1984 in an insurgency by Kurdish militants seeking autonomy.

A ceasefire broke down in July, unleashing some of the worst violence in the history of the conflict.

Eleven people have been arrested in connection with a suicide attack in Ankara on Sunday night which Turkish officials say was carried out by two bombers – one male and one female.


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