Formerly Detained Turkish Political Scientist Acquitted
February 7, 2017
On January 31, 2018, Dr. İştar Gözaydın—a Turkish academic and human rights defender—was acquitted of membership in the Fethullah Gülen movement in her final hearing before the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Dr. Gözaydın is an internationally respected Turkish scholar of political science and law and was Chair of the Department of Sociology at Gediz University, in Izmir Province, until her suspension on July 21, 2016. Her suspension occurred after she posted information on social media criticizing the proposed reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey and mob violence. (Shortly after Dr. Gözaydın’s suspension, the government closed the University by emergency decree for alleged ties to the Gülen movement.) She is the author of numerous articles and books on comparative politics and comparative law concerning the relationship between state and religion in Turkey. Dr. Gözaydın is also well-known as an outspoken analyst on religion and politics in Turkey and appeared regularly on Turkish radio and television to speak on these subjects. Additionally, she is one of the founders of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly (Helsinki Yurttaşlar Derneği), an active Turkish human rights organization. (She was the recipient of the 2017 University of Oslo Human Rights Award.)
Dr. Gözaydın was taken into custody at her home in Izmir in late December 2016. She was one of 14 former faculty members from her university and one of numerous academics from other universities around Turkey detained that day. Dr. Gözaydın was released from detention on March 30, 2017, pending the outcome of her trial.
The CHR appealed to high-level Turkish government officials for her release from detention and acquittal on the grounds that the charges brought against her stemmed from her peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of speech. The Committee also submitted her case to relevant independent U.N. experts