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Turkish novelist in self-imposed exile not to return home despite acquittal: report

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Prominent Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, who now lives in self-imposed exile, has said she would not return home to Turkey despite her acquittal last week of terrorism charges in a long-running case, AFP reported.

The award-winning author, whose books have been translated into 21 languages, spent four months in jail in 2016 as part of a probe into a newspaper’s alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

An İstanbul court acquitted Erdoğan on Friday of membership of an armed terrorist group and disrupting the unity of the state, while charges of spreading terrorist propaganda were dropped.

After her release she traveled to Germany in 2017 as soon as she received her passport back. She has been in self-imposed exile ever since.

“To be honest, I was very surprised. Almost everyone took it for granted that I would be convicted,” the writer told AFP in a phone interview Sunday.

“I still cannot believe it, but if it’s not that, there will be another case,” said Erdoğan — who is not related to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The writer said she had risked a life sentence just because her name was on the literary advisory list of the now-closed pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper.

In Germany, she has had surgery twice for muscle paralysis of the intestine, a condition which doctors say is post-traumatic.

“At the age of 52, I encountered a disease that should occur in one’s 80s,” she said, adding that her stint in jail also played a part.

However, she has no plans to return home because the authorities could seize upon anything she might say to charge her with further offenses, with potentially fatal consequences.

“Another arrest would mean death for me… Under the current circumstances, I cannot return given a risk of detention,” she said.

Since a failed putsch in Turkey in 2016, tens of thousands of people including academics and journalists have been arrested suspected of links to coup plotters.

Critics accuse the president of using the coup to silence opponents, but the government argues a wholesale purge is needed to rid the network of followers blamed for the failed coup.

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