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Location of İmralı

İmralı is a small Turkishmarker island located in the south of the Sea of Marmaramarker, west of Armutlu-Bozburun peninsula within Bursa Provincemarker. It serves currently as a maximum-security prison island for its only inmate, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK which has been declared a Terrorist organisation (PKK) by the United States of Americamarker and the European Union.

The island, measuring a length of 8 km in the north-south direction with a width of 3 km, has an area of 25 km². The highest peak is Türk Tepesi ("Turkish Hill") at an altitude of 217 m.

With a naval base established on it, the island, the first captured by the Ottomans, enabled control of the Sea of Marmara, and cut the Byzantines' connection to Bursa. The name of the island is derived from the name of its conqueror Emir Ali, who was one of first Ottoman admirals.

Until the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1922) three Greek villages existed on the island. The islanders were engaged mostly in growing grapes, vinification, silk production and fishing. One well-known Greek from this island was Kimon Friar who would emigrate to the United Statesmarker and become a scholar and translator of Greek language poetry. Following the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923, the island was mostly uninhabited until 1935, when a semi-open category prison was built. The prisoners were allowed to earn money by working in agriculture and fishing. In 1999, after the capture of Abdullah Öcalan, the prison's other inmates were sent to other prisons, and it was turned to a category A prison. There is also a military base on the island, and the area around the island is a forbidden zone.

Notable inmates of the prison 1935-present

Three politicians were executed on the island in 1961:

Inmates escaped:


  1. American College of Greece


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