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Academies expose plight of jailed Turkish scientists

A human-rights mission to Turkey to investigate the cases of eight scientists, engineers and medical doctors detained under vague but broad-ranging crimes such as ‘attempting to overthrow the government’ has concluded that prosecutors have not provided convincing evidence of their guilt and called for all eight to be released.

Nonetheless, one is serving a 13-year sentence, and prosecutors have requested life imprisonment for the others. Their verdicts will be read out on Monday.

The mission’s report was prepared on behalf of the Committee on Human Rights of the US National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine and the human-rights committee of the Leopoldina, Germany’s national academy.

Three representatives of the committees visited the prisons where the accused have been kept, in some cases for several years, pending verdict. Their report describes the complex political context of the cases; hundreds of others who are not academics face the same fate.

The authors call on the Turkish government to seriously consider the report’s findings, and to improve its human-rights record in general.


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