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'I’m scared for my son': Turkish student caught up in protests detained by Egypt

Berdan Turkmen's father says his son was on an engineering internship in Cairo and has been wrongfully arrested
Berdan Turkmen, 27, had travelled to Egypt in August for a month-long internship at a local company (Screenshot)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Egyptian authorities are holding a Turkish student in detention after picking him up in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday during anti-goverment protests, his family and a Turkish MP have told Middle East Eye.

Berdan Turkmen, 27, travelled to Egypt in August for a month-long internship at a local company that was arranged by the Turkey branch of youth training foundation AIESEC.

“He was there purely for the internship as an electronics engineering student," Berdan's father Yilmaz Turkmen, a teacher living in the city of Balikesir,  told MEE.

"His friends told me that he disappeared after they left their hotel together near Tahrir Square for dinner. There was some sort of chaos.

“I’m told by the Turkish consulate in Cairo that he was taken by the National Security Agency (NSA). He had a return ticket for this weekend,” Yilmaz added.

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Days of protests

Thousands of Egyptians have held protests since Friday against the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the largest demonstrations since the former army general tightened his grip on the country six years ago.

Crowds gathered in Tahrir Square, the site of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and other cities calling for an end to Sisi's rule.

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More than 1,400 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, according to information published by the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a Cairo-based civil society organisation.

A spokesperson for AIESEC Turkey confirmed to MEE that Berdan had travelled to Cairo through their programme and was being kept in detention by the NSA.

“We are trying to help to resolve the situation with assistance from our Egypt branch. We are in communication with the Turkish embassy in Cairo,” the spokesperson said.

The Turkish foreign ministry declined to comment on the matter.

MP's intervention

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a member of the human rights commission at the Turkish parliament, said that he had inquired about Berdan's case.

“I asked about his case to the foreign ministry. They are following the issue. I hope the unjust treatment he faces won’t take long,” the MP tweeted.

Turkey does not have an ambassador in Cairo and relations between the two countries have remained tense since the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Mohamed Morsi, in 2013.

Berdan's father Yilmaz said Egyptian authorities should be able to see that his son is innocent and has nothing to do with politics.

“He doesn’t even speak Arabic. The consulate told me that they don’t know how long it would take for Egypt to release him. I’m scared for my son,” he said.

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