Turkey jails 14 lawyers representing imprisoned hunger strikers

Plain-clothes Turkish police officers force demonstrators to walk in the opposite direction as they attempt to take part in a march to protest against the continued detention of hunger-striking teacher Semih Ozakca and literature professor Nuriye Gulmen in Ankara on September 19, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 21 September 2017
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Turkey jails 14 lawyers representing imprisoned hunger strikers

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday jailed on terror charges 14 lawyers representing two detained teachers who have been on hunger strike for six months after being sacked in a mass crackdown.
The case of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca has become a rallying cause for critics of the purge that followed a failed bid in July 2016 to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
More than 140,000 public sector employees have been suspended or sacked under a state of emergency imposed after the attempted putsch.
The pair began a hunger strike in March, were jailed on terror charges in May and went on trial on September 14 but were not present in court amid growing concerns over their health.
Sixteen lawyers from the Office of People’s Rights (HHB) that represents them were initially detained two days before the start of the trial, raising questions over the timing.
After questioning, an Istanbul court ordered 14 of the lawyers to be imprisoned on charges of “membership of an armed terror group.” Two were allowed to go free.
They are accused of links to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), an outlawed Marxist group that has carried out sporadic attacks.
The HHB is also accused of being part of the DHKP-C, with its lawyers known by the codename “sportsman” within the group.
Gulmen and Ozakca have also been charged over involvement in the DHKP-C, accusations they vehemently deny as does the HHB.
“We only have one answer, to organize ourselves even more and to step up our fight for justice,” the HHB wrote on its Twitter account.
The next hearing in the trial of Gulmen, an academic and Ozakca, a former primary school teacher, will take place on September 28.
The pair are only consuming salted or sugared water, herbal teas and vitamin B1, and family members and supporters have expressed concerns over their health.
The authorities say the mass purge is needed to eradicate the influence in Turkey of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara claims ordered the putsch — something he vehemently denies.
But critics say the crackdown has gone well beyond the alleged plotters to include anyone who dares oppose Erdogan, including Kurdish activists and leftists who had no association with Gulen.


Iran builds new centrifuge rotor factory: Nuclear chief

Updated 40 min 2 sec ago
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Iran builds new centrifuge rotor factory: Nuclear chief

  • The factory would have the capacity to build rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges per day
  • Iran has begun working on infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility

Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work.
The announcement came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.
Under the terms of the 2015 agreement, which was also signed by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The other signatories have been scrambling to save the accord, arguing it offers the best way to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.
Iran has said it will wait to see what the other powers can do, but has signalled it is ready to get its enrichment activities back on track. It has regularly said its nuclear work is just for electricity generation and other peaceful projects.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the new factory did not in itself break the terms of the agreement.
“Instead of building this factory in the next seven or eight years, we built it during the negotiations but did not start it,” Salehi, said, according to state media.
“Of course, the [Supreme Leader] was completely informed and we gave him the necessary information at the time. And now that he has given the order this factory has started all of its work.”
The factory would have the capacity to build rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges per day, he added.
Last month, Salehi announced that Iran has begun working on infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility.