PEN International, a worldwide association of writers, has condemned the sentence of life imprisonment handed to sociologist Pınar Selek, who has been convicted of bombing Istanbul’s famous Spice Bazaar in 1998.
Stressing that Selek had already been acquitted of the charges on three separate occasions, PEN urged the Turkish judiciary to dismiss the charges against the academic and annul the warrant for her arrest.
Selek, who is currently conducting a doctorate in France, was sentenced on Jan. 24 for the alleged attack that caused seven casualties and wounded dozens more and for membership in a terrorist organization.
“According to PEN sources, no evidence has been presented that shows Selek to have been a member of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK or to have engaged in violent activities. It is widely believed that she is being pursued through the courts as a means of penalizing her for her legitimate research and commentary,” the organization said in a statement published on its website, noting that experts had concluded that the explosion was likely caused by a leaking gas canister.
PEN also encouraged people to send appeals to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to protest the court’s decision.
The court’s chief judge had expressed a dissenting opinion and voted for Selek’s acquittal, but was outvoted by his judicial colleagues.