AXA

FRANCE-JUSTICE by Carsten Hoffmann, Petra Klingbeil, Clare Byrne

STRASBOURG, France January 25 Sapa-dpa

CONDEMNED TURKISH SOCIOLOGIST SEEKS SANCTUARY IN FRANCE

Exiled Turkish author and sociologist Pinar Selek, said Friday she was considering seeking political asylum in France, a day after being sentenced to life in prison for terrorism.

"For the first time I'm experiencing what it is like to be condemned," Selek, 41, told a press conference in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg, where she lives.

A Turkish court convicted Selek of a suspected bomb attack on a market in Istanbul in 1998 and issued a warrant for her arrest, despite her having been acquitted on three previous occasions.

Each time she was acquitted the Supreme Court annulled the decisions.

Human rights activists say her prosecution and conviction are politically motivated. Selek's work focuses on the problems of ethnic minorities and women in Turkey.

Describing her shock at Thursday's verdict Selek told reporters: "I felt as if my mother had died".

"I will fight on because I want to return to my homeland," she said, announcing plans to appeal her conviction.

The circumstances of the 1998 bombing are widely in dispute. An expert report in 2000 said the blast, which killed seven people, was probably caused by a gas leak.

That report led to Selek's release from prison, after two years in custody.

Sapa-dpa

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