British academic 'being deported from Turkey' after Kurdish invitations find


A British academic says he is being deported from Turkey after being found with invitations to Kurdish New Year celebrations.

Chris Stephenson, a computer sciences lecturer at Bilgi Unviersity in Istanbul, told The Associated Press that he was detained on Tuesday at a court where he was supporting three fellow academics charged with making terrorist propaganda.

He said he was arrested by police after security guards discovered the invitations in his bag. 

Speaking moments before his departure from Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport Mr Stephenson told The Associated Press there had been "no offence, no trial, just an administrative decision to deport me after 25 years of residency in Turkey".

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing assistance to a British national who was arrested in Istanbul on March 15 2016, and will remain in close contact with the local authorities."

Kemal Tuncaelli, Mr Stephenson's lawyer, told The Associated Press the lecturer had been accused of "making terror propaganda" and said they plan to appeal the decision to deport him. 

Mr Stephenson, who is married to a Turkish national and has a 13-year-old daughter, said he was "gutted" and denied supporting terrorism.

"In no way was I supporting terrorism. I was supporting a peaceful solution."

He said the invitations found in his bag were issued by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, and featured a reference to Kurdish self-determination and a small picture of a barricade. 

His arrest comes just days after a suicide bomb in Ankara killed 37 people.

Authorities have blamed the attack on a female Kurdish rebel.