Jun 03 2019

Turkish police free Kurdish columnist Nurcan Baysal after brief arrest

(Update with Baysal released)

Turkish police released Nurcan Baysal, an award-winning Kurdish rights defender and Ahval columnist, on Monday, hours after she was detained on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Baysal announced her release on Twitter, saying she had been freed and thanked everyone for their support.

"I thank everyone who called and supported me. I will share more details when I get home," she wrote.

Baysal told Ahval earlier on Monday that she had been taken to a hospital by anti-terror police. Lawyers representing Baysal said prosecutors had provided them with no further details about the charges.

In 2018, Baysal was named Global Laureate for Human Rights Defenders at Risk by Front Line Defenders, an Irish human rights NGO. She also contributes to Turkish news website T24.

Turkish police have rounded up thousands of writers, journalists, academics and state employees over the past three years on charges of links to militant Kurdish groups and the Fethullah Gülen organisation, which Turkey blames for orchestrating a failed military coup in 2016.

The arrest comes just days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he wanted to revive Turkey's floundering application for European Union membership.

Baysal was also detained by Turkish police at her house in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey in January 2018, and later freed. Human Rights Watch said at the time that she was taken into custody in connection with her Tweets criticising Turkey's military operation in Afrin, Syria.

Baysal is a founder of the Diyarbakır Institute for Political and Social Research (DISA).