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Turkish court releases two Bogazici students from jail

The protests at the prestigious Bogazici began one year ago
after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed as rector Melih Bulu, an academic and
former political candidate. He was later replaced by Naci Inci, one of his
deputies, in August.

The protests briefly spread elsewhere in Istanbul and to
other cities, and led to the brief detention of hundreds of people.

Fourteen students were detained in October for participating
in the protests and two of them, Berke Gok and Perit Ozen, were jailed pending
trial while the rest were released.

The students were charged with violating the law regarding
demonstrations, preventing public officials from doing their duty and
intercepting a vehicle among other crimes.

Ahead of the hearing students gathered in support of the
defendants near Istanbul’s main courthouse holding signs demanding their
freedom.

Burcin Sahan, a lawyer for the pair, said after the hearing
that “judicial harassment” against the students needed to end.

Sergey Lagodinksy, a member of the European Parliament, said
before the ruling that the charges against the students should be dropped and
called their detention “absolutely unjustified”.

“Expressing your opinion publically and peacefully is a
fundamental right,” he said on Twitter.

Students and teachers at Bogazici protested regularly over
the past year against what they say is government interference in academia.
They clashed with police at times, prompting Erdogan to describe them as
terrorists.

Faculty members, some of whom have gathered daily with their
backs turned on the rector’s building, say the protests will continue until a
rector is chosen by university members and academic freedoms were secured.

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In a separate case, seven students are charged with inciting
hatred for displaying an image that combined Islamic imagery with LGBT flags
during the protests last year, which led Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu to
label the students “LGBT deviants.”

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