DAVIS (CBS13) — A UC Davis Professor is facing charges for signing a petition criticizing the Turkish army.
Baki Tezcan is considered what’s called an “academic for peace.” He is the first Turkish American charged and the first to stand trial.
Tezcan, a father of two, spent years teaching at UC Davis. This week he stood in front of a judge in Istanbul defending his right to free speech.
“I was worried,” he said.
We spoke with Baki Tezcan via Skype from an apartment in Istanbul. A dual citizen, he’s been there for almost a month, doing research and making sure he stays a free man.
“It was more the court that created this situation,” he said.
He is one of more than 2,000 academics who signed a petition in 2016 accusing the Turkish army of killing Kurdish civilians
“According to them, the petition was propaganda for terrorism,” Tezcan said.
He remembered signing the petition in 2016 and knew the possibility he could be charged.
“I was expecting that charges would be here quite early on. That’s because of the government’s response to the petition: to call us all traitor,” he said.
Last month he went back to Istanbul. At the airport, he was immediately separated from his family and detained for questioning.
“I showed my passport, police asked me whether I was traveling alone, I said, ‘No, my family is with me.’ They said, ‘please follow us,’ and let them go,” Tezcan said.
Tezcan said he can’t be sure of what will happen to him moving forward.
“Acquittal is not an option in these cases,” he said.
But he said most of the academics for peace who have been sentenced walk free.
The judge decided to postpone a verdict until October and exempt Tezcan from appearing in future court sessions.