Protests for Edinburgh man in Turkish jail

Stephen Kaczynski is on hunger strike. Picture: Contributed
Stephen Kaczynski is on hunger strike. Picture: Contributed
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SUPPORTERS of an Edinburgh man who is on hunger strike in a Turkish jail were today staging a protest calling for him to be released.

Protesters were set to gather outside the Edinburgh Turkish Consulate General in George Street to demand that Steve Kaczynski is liberated without charge.

Mr Kaczynski, 52, was arrested in April when police raided the Idil culture centre in Istanbul ahead of a symposium where he was due to act as interpreter.

It is understood he is being held on suspicion of being a member of banned left-wing organisation DHKP-C. However, his family disputes this.

He began his hunger strike in June in protest at being locked up in isolation for 23 hours a day and denied access to books and letters.

Fears are growing for Mr Kaczynski’s health, and there are concerns that if he does not eat soon he could suffer from liver and kidney failure and may also experience problems with his eyesight.

Since June 25, Mr Kaczynski, who has written extensively about human rights abuses and isolation conditions in Turkish prisons in the past, has only drunk water with lemon juice and taken vitamin B1.

He has lost at least two and a half stones and is reported to have suffered low blood pressure and physical weakness.

Today’s protest will be held outside Forsyth House, George Street at 2.30pm, and will co-incide with similar events in London and Birmingham.

Organisers Craig Ross and Craig Ewing, who are liaising closely with the Committee for Stephen Kaczynski’s Freedom, based in England, said they want to encourage as many people as possible to take part.

Mr Kaczynski’s brother Brian said that he received a short phone call from him earlier this week.

“He says he is feeling okay,” he said. “He’s getting medical supervision and the British Consulate are in contact with the prison to monitor his health. He was intelligent and articulate as usual when I spoke to him on the phone.”

His family – including his mother Ann, 70, who lives in Gilmerton – fear it could be more than a year before a date is set for his trial.

Brian added: “We are still on tenterhooks waiting to hear that he’s stopping the strike or if there’s any progress in the case. I’m also waiting to hear back from the British Consulate for permission for me to visit him again. It’s very worrying. We are getting lots of messages of support and thoughts for him.”

He said it was not clear exactly what charges might be brought against his brother, and his lawyer believes the evidence is spurious.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com