City man in Turkish jail ends hunger strike

Stephen Kaczynski
Stephen Kaczynski
0
Have your say

A HUMAN rights campaigner from the Capital who was on hunger strike in a Turkish jail has begun eating again.

Relatives of Steve Kaczynski, 52, said the update had come as a “massive relief” after it emerged earlier this year that the journalist had stopped taking food in protest at conditions in his high-security prison in Istanbul.

Mr Kaczynski was arrested in April in a raid by Turkish police on the Idil Culture Centre, Istanbul, ahead of a symposium where he was due to act as interpreter.

It is thought the authorities are claiming he has links to banned left-wing organisation DHKP-C. Members of left-wing Turkish music group Grup Yorum were arrested at the same time but later released.

His mother, Ann, who lives in Gilmerton, said she had been contacted by her other son, Brian, and informed that Mr Kaczynski had stopped his hunger strike.

She said: “We’re very relieved – it’s a massive relief and it’s a massive relief for his brother, who has been very concerned and upset. I was quite emotional when he told me. We had been so worried.”

Mr Kaczynski began refusing food on June 25 in protest at being locked up in isolation for 23 hours a day and denied visits, access to books and letters.

He made his first court appearance at the end of last month and was asked to make a statement to a judge.

But he refused because he had not been given time to 
consult a lawyer.

His mother said she had been told her son’s conditions had improved but added that she was still deeply worried amid concerns a full trial might not take place for up to a year.

“He’s getting more books and papers,” she said.

“And he is talking to some lawyers. I hope that they will just let him go. That sort of thing has happened before, apparently.

“I’m still concerned. I just want him to be free – it’s a huge strain.”

Mr Kaczynski was born in Edinburgh and went to Linlithgow Academy before enrolling at Edinburgh University to study Russian and German.

He worked as a journalist, including several years at the BBC World Service, and has written extensively about human rights abuses and isolation conditions in Turkish prisons.

Jim Eadie, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, who has been following the case, said: “I welcome the fact that Mr Kaczynski has given up his hunger strike because it has been a huge source of anxiety for his family, particularly in recent days. The focus now shifts to ensuring that he has a fair trial and that he’s released or brought to trial as soon as possible.”

He added: “I will continue to work with the Foreign Office and Mr Kaczynski’s family to ensure that his health and welfare are paramount.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com