7 August 2012A French-Turkish student detained in Turkey since May on suspicion of links to an outlawed far-left terrorist group DHKP/C was released Monday, the support committee for Sevil Sevimli said.
"This afternoon the guards came to see her and her three other friends in the cell. They told them,'Take your belongings and leave'," childhood friend Sinem Elmas, who is part of the support committee, told AFP Monday.
"Right now, she's in Eskisehir dining with her mother, younger brother, sister and three friends" released with her, Elmas added after talking to Sevimli. The release could not be immediately confirmed with Turkish officials. The announcement comes after Sevimli's supporters voiced concern over her health Saturday and said they had sent a petition with more than 13,000 signatures to French officials calling for the 20-year-old's release.
Still, Elmas said the release came as a surprise to Sevimli and her friends and family, "especially as we just learned today that her trial is scheduled for September 26." She added it was unclear whether Sevimli was still expected to stand trial.
"We still don't know when she'll return to France, we don't know if she has the right to return. We know nothing about the conditions of her release," Elmas said.
Born in France to Turkish Kurd parents, Sevimli was arrested in Turkey in May while she was in the country completing a final year of studies using Erasmus, the inter-European university exchange scheme.
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 the 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 Unon 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.
But Elmas denied the accusations, saying her friend is "someone with left-leaning ideas but she's not an activist. She wants to be a journalist and is interested in everything."