Academic from Scottish university arrested in Turkey for criticizing Erdoğan

An outspoken Aberdeen University academic has been arrested in Turkey for posting critical commentary online about the country’s leader.

Lawyer Hanifi Barış, who graduated from Aberdeen University’s Centre of Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law with a Ph.D. last year, was arrested by police in İstanbul on Wednesday for “posting items with criminal content on Facebook and Twitter accounts,” according to Scotland-based The Press and Journal.

Barış, who moved to Turkey after leaving Aberdeen last year to be with his wife and family, could be put behind bars for up to four years for speaking out against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Aberdeen University graduate, who previously practiced law as an attorney for several years in Turkey and specializes in political theory, uploaded a number of articles denouncing President Erdoğan towards the end of June, when the Turkish leader secured victory in a national election.

Barış was due to return to Scotland in September as a keynote speaker at a convention of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law.

His academic colleagues at Aberdeen University launched a petition on Friday calling for his immediate release.

“Hanifi is a gifted, well-respected and dearly loved scholar and friend. We demand justice for our esteemed colleague,” the petition says.

Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North, said she would call on the UK government to put pressure on Turkey regarding the arrest.

“No one should be arrested for expressing a non-violent political opinion or using social media to discuss politics in a civil manner.

“Imprisoning academics is not the behavior of a democratic or respectful government, and Turkey must recognize how wrong this is and free Dr. Barış,” she said.

Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson added: “It is worrying to hear reports that this graduate of Aberdeen University has been detained in Turkey.

“I will be following this case as closely as I can, and I hope that we will hear some positive news soon.”

The petition calling for the release of Baris can be viewed at (

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