France - Turkey

Franco-Turkish student to return to France after conviction for terror propaganda

AFP/Sevimli Family

A Franco-Turkish student arrested after joining a May Day parade in Istanbul last year is expected to be back in France as early as Wednesday. A Turkish court on Friday sentenced Sevil Sevimli to five years in jail for “terrorist propaganda” but said she could return home while her appeal is pending.


Sevimli, 21, was born in France to Tukish-Kurd parents and went to Eskisehir University in north-west Turkey, as a European Erasmus exchange student early last year.

After participating in the May Day parade she was arrested on 10 May and accused of belonging to the far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

The DHKP-C has been responsible for numerous violent attacks, including this month’s attack on the US embassy in Ankara that killed a Turkish security guard.

Her trial, which could have resulted in up to 32 years in prison, started in September and on Friday a court in the north-western city of Bursa sentenced her to five years and two months in prison for the lesser crime of disseminating propaganda on behalf
of a banned group.

But the court let her out on bail of 10,000 Turkish lira (4,200 euros) and has no insisted that she stay in the country.

"The most important this is for her to come back,” Sinem Elmas, a childhood friend of Sevimli who runs a support committee, told RFI. “She has all her family here, she has been away from her relatives for too long. She has to return to France and take her life back.”

The case was brought under anti-terror laws introduced largely to combat the Kurdish separatist, PKK, three of whose members were murdered in Paris last month.

Those laws are set to be revised, says Elmas.

“We expect a lot from the reform of the propaganda legislation that is to be passed in Turkey,” she added. “She is innocent and she deserves is to be acquitted. She should even get compensation.

“I really think all this has been so unfair. She was detained for three months and has been through a nightmare."

Sevimli makes no secret of her left-wing views but has denied being a member of DHKP-C or spreading its propaganda.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app