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Student protesters from Istanbul university reject ‘terror propaganda’ charge as trial begins

Twenty-two students from a prestigious Istanbul university went on trial Wednesday over a campus protest against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s military campaign in Syria, AFP reports. The students rejected the charges they had spread “terror” propaganda, in a case that has outraged activists. Fourteen of the students have been held in jail since their initial detention in March when police stormed students’ dormitories at Bogazici University. The accused face jail terms of up to five years if convicted on charges of propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), according to a lawyer for the students. Turkey earlier this year successfully carried out a major incursion into the Afrin region of northern Syria with allied Syrian rebels. The offensive ousted the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara brands a terror group and branch of the PKK. Prosecutors accuse the students of seeking to discredit the army and the state by portraying them as an “occupier” and as an “illegitimate force that uses violence.”