ANKARA — Turkish authorities placed the president of the Turkish Medical Association under arrest on “terrorist propaganda” charges Thursday after she called for an investigation into allegations that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants.
A court ordered Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, 63, jailed pending a trial on charges of disseminating propaganda in favor of a terrorist organization, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Fincanci was detained Wednesday in Istanbul following a raid at her home and brought to Ankara for questioning. A trial date is expected to be set after prosecutors prepare an indictment.
The forensic expert has spent much of her career documenting torture and ill-treatment, and is a leading human rights activist in Turkey. She has served as president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.
Both the Turkish Medical Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey have called for her release.
Last week, Turkish officials strongly rejected allegations by Kurdish militants that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, insisting the military doesn’t have such weapons in its inventory.
Fincanci gave an interview to a pro-Kurdish news outlet in which she called for an “effective investigation” into the allegations and said she had inspected a video purporting to show the use of chemical weapons. Turkish authorities maintain the outlet is linked to the PKK.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused her of slandering Turkey’s armed forces and of insulting her country. He vowed to take actions to clear the Turkish Medical Association and other professional organizations of “supporters of the terrorist organization.”
A nationalist party that is allied with Erdogan’s ruling party, demanded that she be stripped of her Turkish citizenship and for her association to be shut down.
During her questioning by police and court officials, the doctor rejected accusations of engaging in propaganda on behalf of Kurdish militants, HaberTurk television reported. She also told interrogators she was not aware of any links between the pro-Kurdish media outlet and the PKK.
The PKK has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.