After more than two years of legal and administrative procedures in Turkey, Professor Tuna Altınel has been acquitted of all charges brought and has had his passport returned by the Turkish authorities, and is ex-pected to return to France in the near future.
The CCS has followed this process closely from the beginning, sending an observer to his judicial proceedings and sharing our concerns with the judicial and administrative authorities as the case has developed.
Professor Altınel has worked at the university Lyon 1 in Lyon, France, since 1996. A complaint by the Turkish consul in Lyon to the Turkish au-thorities in Ankara which referred to his involvement as translator in an authorized public meeting in Lyon, and his activities as a poll watcher in the Turkish community in Lyon, led to the conﬁscation of his passport and his arrest in Turkey on charges of membership in an armed terrorist group, soon downgraded to propaganda on behalf of an armed terrorist group. He was acquitted of all charges in January 2020; an appeal of this decision by the prosecution was rejected and the acquittal deﬁnitively conﬁrmed in September 2020.
Nonetheless the administrative authorities continued to refuse to return his passport, on unspeciﬁed grounds. The aﬀair then entered the administra-tive court system. On January 25, 2021 the administrative court vacated the refusal of the administrative authorities to return the passport; publication of the decision was delayed until April 2, 2021. The responsible passport oﬃce has entered an appeal of this decision, which however remains in eﬀect pending ﬁnal disposition by a superior administrative court.
On May 27, 2021 Professor Altınel’s Turkish passport was returned to him, subject to no administrative restrictions. In principle he should now be able to return to France and resume his professional activities there, subject to the complications resulting from the present pandemic and the lapse of his French papers (carte de s´ejour) in the interim, due to his long absence in Turkey.
Deﬁnitive recognition of Professor Altınel’s right to travel freely and to exercise his profession depends ultimately on the superior administrative court’s decision on the ongoing appeal by the passport authorities of the lower administrative court’s prior decision. The CCS has written to that court in support of deﬁnitive conﬁrmation of these rights.