When he was released from prison after midnight late last month, Kadri Gursel walked straight to his wife, Nazire, and embraced her. Their lingering kiss in front of the prison, and a soldier’s shy glancing away, was caught on camera by a Turkish photographer and sent round the world.

The kiss came to stand for freedom in more ways than one in today’s Turkey. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested or purged from their jobs under a state of emergency declared after a failed coup attempt last year, but that is not the only source of tension. There is also the government’s deepening religious conservatism, which is changing the face of the republic.

For Mr. Gursel the kiss was spontaneous, but it symbolizes much of who he is. A senior columnist for Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper, and board member of the International Press Institute, which works for press freedom, he is one of the most prominent political prisoners to be swept up in the government crackdown.

Read the whole story from The New York Times.

Featured image courtesy of AP