*Update: Turkish media are reporting today that Meral Camcı was arrested upon returning to Istanbul after a vacation in France. According to reports, she turned herself in willingly. Science's pre-arrest interview with Camcı, published 22 March, appears below.
The simmering war between Turkish academics and their increasingly repressive government came to a boil last week with arrests and an escape. It began in January with the firing of dozens of academics, many of them scientists, from Turkey’s universities. All had signed an online petition by a group calling itself Academics for Peace that is critical of the government’s treatment of the Kurdish minority group. The firings sparked protests and statements from scientific organizations, including the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, calling on the government to respect freedom of speech.
The standoff held until 13 March, when Kurdish separatists set off a car bomb in the capital, killing 37 people. The next day Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced that the definition of “terrorism” should be expanded to include all who provide support in the form of “propaganda” and specifically called out academics.
Within hours of the president’s speech, police arrived at the homes of four Turkish researchers. Three are now imprisoned; Turkish academics fear that many more arrests will follow. But Meral Camcı, a literary scholar who had been dismissed from her faculty position at Yeni Yüzyıl University in Istanbul, had gone to France on vacation just days before.