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French student jailed in Turkey terror trial

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10:54 CET+01:00
A French-Turkish university student has been sentenced to five years imprisonment by a Turkish court for "terrorist propaganda" in a case which has sparked criticism from human rights groups.

Defence lawyer, Inayet Aksu, said the court in the northwestern city of Bursa had sentenced Sevil Sevimli, 21, to five years and two months in prison but freed her until her planned appeal and did not require that she stay in Turkey.

She will however have to pay 10,000 Turkish lira (around €4,200 euros, $5,600) in bail before she leaves, Aksu said.

The exchange student was arrested after joining a May Day parade in Istanbul and went on trial in September on charges that risked up to 32 years in prison.

Aksu said that while she was initially accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation, she was only found guilty of disseminating propaganda on behalf of an outlawed group.

Sevimli, who was detained for three months before her release under court supervision in August, is accused of links to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

The far-left extremist group is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. It claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara this month that killed a Turkish security guard.

Since 1976, the DHKP-C has been behind numerous attacks against the Turkish state that have killed dozens.

Sevimli has denied the accusations, calling them "ridiculous".

In November, Aksu told the judge, "Her only fault is to come to Turkey as a student with leftist ideas".

Born in France to Turkish Kurd parents, Sevimli was completing a final year of studies in Turkey under Erasmus, the inter-European university exchange scheme, at the time of her arrest.

Her friends and supporters greeted the news of her imminent return to France, expected Wednesday, with joy.

"It's first off a huge relief to know that Sevil can leave Turkish territory," said the head of her school in France, Jean-Luc Mayaud of Lyon-2 University.

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