Turkish Mathematician Acquitted
January 28, 2020
On January 24, 2020—following 81 days in detention and several months of trial proceedings—Turkish mathematician Tuna Altınel was acquitted of terrorism-related charges.
Professor Altınel, who resides in France, is an associate professor of mathematics at Claude Bernard University Lyon 1. In April 2019, upon arriving in Turkey to visit family members, his passport was confiscated by state officials without explanation. When Professor Altınel went to the police station in Balıkesir to inquire about his travel documents, he was taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, he was indicted.
The charges against Professor Altınel stemmed from his participation in a screening, near Lyon, of a documentary film titled “Cizre, the story of a massacre,” which was followed by a panel discussion. (Cizre is a town in the majority Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey, where close to 200 civilians—trapped in building basements—were killed during military operations.) Professor Altınel reportedly provided translation into French of remarks given in Turkish during the panel discussion. Reliable reports indicate that no credible evidence was provided to support the charges brought against him. Professor Altınel was released from custody at the end of his first hearing on July 30, 2019. Although no official legal restrictions were placed on him, the authorities did not return his passport during the remainder of his trial, thus preventing him from resuming his university teaching in France.