Nusret Muğla, 84, who suffers from multiple health problems, was arrested on Wednesday after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a previous conviction that was based on politically motivated charges.
Speaking to Bold Medya immediately before his arrest, Muğla said he had heart disease, high blood pressure, prostate cancer and renal and balance problems. He said he took 14 different medications every day and could barely walk. According to Muğla, his son took care of his daily needs as he was unable to leave the house.
Muğla was arrested in October 2016 for alleged membership to the Gülen movement and underwent an angiography during his time in jail. He was released for health reasons seven months later but was subsequently sentenced to six years, three months in prison.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on November 26, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the Gülen movement.
The purge has resulted in a drastic increase of political prisoners in Turkish prisons, some of whom are severely ill.
According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are more than 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkish prisons, approximately 604 of whom are critically ill. Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to release them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society. In the first eight months of 2020, five critically ill prisoners passed away because they were not released in time to receive proper medical treatment.
Since April 2020, four seriously ill prisoners over the age of 70 have died in penal institutions; five inmates suffering from cancer died shortly after they were released; and 16 died of chronic illnesses while imprisoned.