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Academic arrested on charges of organizing Gezi Park protests, Kavala links

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İstanbul Bilgi University NGO Education and Research executive Yiğit Aksakoğlu, who was among academics detained on Friday for alleged links to jailed businessman and activist Osman Kavala, was arrested on Saturday by a Turkish court, the Evrensel daily reported.

The police on Friday detained 13 prominent academics allegedly affiliated with the Anadolu Kültür Foundation, which is linked to Kavala, and the Open Society Foundation on accusations of creating disruptions through the Gezi Park protests.

The detainees are accused of fomenting chaos to destroy the Republic of Turkey by attempting to expand the Gezi Park protests in 2013 throughout the country, according to a police statement distributed to the press.

The Gezi Park protests took place in the summer of 2013 in reaction to the government’s attempt to destroy one of the few green spaces left in İstanbul and turned into a major protest against the policies of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued a statement accusing the detainees of bringing “professional protestors” from abroad to enhance the protests.

The remaining detainees were released under a travel ban.

“This latest wave of detentions of academics and activists, on the basis of absurd allegations, shows that the authorities are intent on continuing their brutal crackdown of independent civil society,” Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said.

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