ANKARA, Turkey — Police detained the president of the Turkish Medical Association after she called for an investigation into allegations that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, media reports in Turkey said Wednesday.
Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, 63, was detained on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” as part of an investigation launched by anti-terrorism police, according to the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said.
Fincanci, a forensic expert, has spent much of her career documenting torture and ill-treatment, and is a leading human rights activist in Turkey. She has served as president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.
Turkish newspaper Birgun newspaper and other media reported that she was detained in Istanbul following an early morning raid at her home and was being brought to Ankara for questioning.
Last week, Turkish officials strongly rejected allegations by Kurdish militants that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, insisting the military doesn’t have such weapons in its inventory.
In comments to a pro-Kurdish news outlet, Fincanci said she inspected a video purporting to show the use of chemical weapons and called for an “effective investigation.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused her of slandering Turkey’s armed forces and of insulting her country “by speaking the language of the terrorist organization.”
He vowed to take actions to clear the Turkish Medical Association and other professional organizations of “supporters of the terrorist organization.”
Devlet Bahceli, the leader of a national party that is allied with Erdogan’s ruling party, also severely criticized Fincanci during a speech on Tuesday.
The doctor’s detention came a day after police conducted raids in several Turkish cities and detained 11 journalists working with pro-Kurdish media.
Police said the journalists were detained over news or other content “that incites the public to hatred and enmity” and accused their media outlet of having links to the PKK.
The PKK has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.