Scots hunger strike prisoner quiet in Turkish court

Steve Kaczynski is being held in a Turkish jail. Picture: Contributed
Steve Kaczynski is being held in a Turkish jail. Picture: Contributed
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HUMAN rights campaigner Steve Kaczynski, who is being held in isolation in a Turkish prison, has made an appearance in court.

The 52-year-old, who is on hunger strike over his detention, was asked to make a statement to a judge, but refused because he had not been given time to consult a lawyer.

He is aware of the consequences and understands the medical issues

Brian Kaczynski

Mr Kaczynski 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.

He began his hunger strike on June 25 in protest at being locked up in isolation for 23 hours a day and denied access to books and letters.

Mr Kaczynski’s brother, Brian, said a British consular official had visited Steve on Wednesday and reported he had lost a lot of weight but was continuing his hunger strike.

Brian said: “The consular official said he was healthy and seemed in good condition. He is still on hunger strike, but he is receiving regular medical check-ups.

“His blood pressure, body temperature and blood sugar levels are checked twice a day and he is currently stable.

“He has lost a lot of weight, he is very thin. If his condition deteriorates, he would have to go to hospital.”

Mr Kaczynski is drinking water with lemon juice and taking vitamin B1.

Brian added: “I would like him to end his hunger strike, but it’s his decision. He is aware of the consequences of his hunger strike and understands the medical issues involved. He has no complaints about the treatment he is receiving from prison staff.”

Brian said his brother had now received some of the material which the authorities had previously deemed unsuitable.

“From that point of view, the situation seems to be a little bit better,” he said.

There have been fears that Mr Kaczynski could be held for up to a year, waiting for a court hearing.

Brian said there was still no trial date, but Mr Kaczynski had made an appearance in court.

“He was told on Tuesday night he would be taken to see a judge in the morning, but he had no time to consult with a lawyer. He was taken to court and asked to make a statement, but he refused because he had no legal representation. That was just before he saw the consular official.

“He stresses he is not being mistreated in any way.

“The hunger strike is in protest at his imprisonment and isolation and the fact he is still being denied some letters and documents.”

Brian said the consular official had spoken to the prison manager. He said: “The prison manager told him he respected my brother.”

The Evening News revealed earlier this week the concerns of Mr Kaczynski’s mother, Ann, who lives in Gilmerton, over her son’s detention.

She said: “It’s very worrying. I just wish he could come back to Britain and stay here.”

Brian eventually managed to visit his brother last week and hopes to go again soon. “The British consul in Istanbul has applied for me to visit again as soon as possible,” he said.

Brian’s MSP, Jim Eadie, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron about Mr Kaczynski’s case and received a promise that the UK government would monitor his welfare and raise “any issues” with the Turkish authorities.

Mr Eadie, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, has also asked for a meeting with Foreign Office minister David Lidlington.

Reports at the time of Mr Kaczynski’s arrest said he was detained in connection with a hostage incident linked to DHKP-C which ended when a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him were killed after Turkish security forces stormed the building.

But Brian has said he understands the incident happened before Mr Kaczynski arrived in Turkey and described his brother as “an idealist and a writer – not violent”.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com