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French student: I'm not an extremist

AFP · 8 Aug 2012, 10:44

Published: 08 Aug 2012 10:44 GMT+02:00

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Sevil Sevimli, who was arrested on May 10 and imprisoned until being released on Monday, said in a phone interview with AFP that she has been ordered to stay in Turkey pending her September 26 trial, confirming an earlier statement from the French foreign ministry.

Speaking by cell phone from the city of Eskisehir in north-east Turkey, where she had been in jail, the 20-year-old condemned the case against her.

"It's as if everything were planned from the start, as if it were a film," she said.

Arrested with five others, she is accused of colluding with a terrorist group, a crime that can carry a penalty of up to 12 years in prison.

Her lawyer said in June she was accused of attending a May Day parade and a concert by Yorum, a band known to have a socialist ideology.

He said police suspect her of having links with the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which the United States and the European Union have listed as a terrorist group.

Since 1976, the DHKP-C has been behind numerous attacks against the Turkish state that have left dozens dead, including two retired generals and a former justice minister.

"The questions they ask me are always the same, like 'Did you go to that concert on May 1,'" Sevimli said.

"The things they are accusing us of are completely legal and democratic, we have nothing to be afraid of. We're just waiting."

She called the case "rubbish" and said students are often arrested in Turkey over their political beliefs.

A committee formed to support Sevimli had on Monday announced her release.

France's foreign ministry clarified Tuesday that she was "freed on conditional release and banned from leaving Turkey".

Story continues below…

The case has created diplomatic tensions between Paris and Ankara.

"France continues to follow attentively Sevimli's situation and remains fully mobilised to offer her the support she might need," foreign ministry deputy spokesman Vincent Floreani told journalists.

The announcement comes after Sevimli's supporters voiced concern over her health on Saturday and said they had sent a petition with more than 13,000 signatures to French officials calling for her release.

Born in France to Turkish Kurd parents, Sevimli was arrested in Turkey while she was in the country completing a final year of studies using Erasmus, the inter-European university exchange scheme.

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