Pekunlu began his sentence in a prison in the western city of Izmir, becoming the first individual in Turkey to be jailed for such an offence, his lawyer Murat Fatih Ulku told AFP.
Before heading to prison, the 64-year-old professor gave a public lecture on the “universe and evolution” to an audience including his former students, colleagues as well as members of several labour unions.
“This is not our last lecture. We have a lot more to do. This is not the end,” Pekunlu said before bursting into tears, as gasps and sobbing erupted inside the packed hall.
“Professor Rennan is not alone,” the crowd chanted, according to the website of Hurriyet newspaper.
“AKP dictatorship is doomed to collapse,” they shouted, referring to the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party.
Pekunlu denies the charges, saying he did not prevent any student from entering the university or attending his classes, insisting that he would just “report them to university authorities”, to which he is entitled under Turkish laws.
“I would have done the same in similar circumstances. I have done my duty,” he told CNN-Turk television by phone.
His lawyer said they took the decision to the European Court of Human Rights. “It’s an unfortunate decision in a secular, constitutional state,” Ulku said.
Way to go, Turkey.