Academic deported by Malaysia in 2017 deprived of medication in prison

İsmet Özçelik

İsmet Özçelik, 60, a Turkish academic who was deported to Turkey by the Malaysian government in 2017 due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, has been deprived of medication for cardiac disease and diabetes in prison, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Hatice Özçelik, his wife, tweeted that he has not been given his medication for more than 20 days.

İsmet Özçelik was a cardiac patient when he underwent an angiography in 2016 to rule out a pulmonary embolism.

Özçelik has been subjected to ill-treatment in prison. He suffered a cardiac complication in August 2019 but was not taken to a hospital. Suat Özçelik, his son, claimed they were not informed of the situation and found out from their lawyer more than a week later that his father had health problems.

Malaysia deported Özçelik to Turkey on May 11, 2017 where he was sentenced to nine years, 11 months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. He is serving his sentence in Denizli Prison in western Turkey.

Özçelik, who had been under protection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was detained by Malaysian officials in Kuala Lumpur with two other Turkish men under the country’s Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA). The Malaysian authorities said they were being investigated under Section 130J of the Penal Code (read together with SOSMA) for allegedly soliciting, giving support to terrorist groups, or for the commission of terrorist acts.

In a statement Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson had said about the deportation: “Done in the middle of the night, with no notification to their families, Malaysia sent these three men to face a possible risk of torture and prolonged pre-trial detention, followed by a court trial that will likely fail to meet fair trial standards. The refoulement of İsmet Özçelik, who had person of concern status with the UNHCR, is a clear violation of international human rights law.”

Amnesty International had also issued a statement warning Malaysian authorities that the possible extradition would put the men at risk of torture.

In May 2019 the UN Human Rights Committee called on Turkish authorities to release Özçelik, saying the country had violated his freedoms.

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