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Turkey: German academic free to return home

December 19, 2017

A court in Turkey has lifted a two-year travel ban against a German sociologist accused of spreading terrorist propaganda. The decision comes a day after German journalist Mesale Tolu was released from custody.

Sharo Garip
Image: picture alliance / Linda Say/dpa

Sociologist Sharo Garip was released on Tuesday and granted permission to return to his home city of Cologne in western Germany.

The 51-year-old had been barred from leaving Turkey since the beginning of 2016 over terror propaganda charges. Although he's now free to leave, he will have to return in February, 2018, when his trial is set to continue.

"It's a great feeling to be able to return home," an elated Garip said after the Istanbul court's decision, adding that he wanted to leave "as soon as possible."

Read more: Turkey frees German jailed for 'political reasons'

The sociologist was arrested after he signed an appeal, along with around 1,000 other academics, urging the Turkish government to end its crackdown on Kurdish communities in Turkey's southeast.

Garip, who has Kurdish roots, maintains his innocence and has demanded he be acquitted of the charges. "I did not commit a crime," he said. "I was only exercising my right to freedom of expression."

The academic has previously compared his enforced stay in Turkey to being trapped in an "open-air prison." During the two-year travel ban, he was not allowed to practice his profession or travel to conferences.

Read more: Detained German Mesale Tolu appears in Istanbul court

One Monday, German journalist Mesale Tolu was released from custody after more than seven months of pre-trial detention. Her case will resume on April 26 next year. She is one of several Germans who have been imprisoned in Turkey for allegedly producing "terrorist propaganda," including Deniz Yucel, a reporter for Die Welt newspaper.

Relations between German and Turkey have taken a nosedive in the wake of a failed 2016 coup that saw Ankara launch a major crackdown on the security, defense, education and judicial sectors.

Political detainees in Turkey

nm/rc (epd, dpa)