Supporters of four jailed Turkish academics gather in front of the Istanbul courthouse during their trial on April 22, 2016. (AFP photo)
A court in Istanbul has released pending trial four Turkish academics jailed on charges of “spreading terrorist propaganda.”
“We are excited to announce the release of our colleagues. We will read out a press statement in front of the courthouse soon,” the Academics for Peace group, which represents the signatories of the petition, said on Facebook on Friday.
The scholars were arrested in March for their alleged role in organizing a petition against the government’s military campaign in the southeast of the country in January that was signed by over 2,000 academics calling for peace.
Back in January, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the large group of academics who criticized Ankara’s anti-PKK campaign, saying the academics will continue to thrash around “in this pit of treachery they fell in.”
The next court hearing will be held in September, the group added.
’s southeast has been volatile since a shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 collapsed following a large-scale military operation against the militant group.
Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has been conducting offensives against the positions of the militant group in northern Iraq as well.
The Turkish military operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the Ankara government of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting the Turkish military operations.
The PKK launched its insurgency against Turkey in 1984. So far, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.