Ailing retired imam imprisoned on Gülen links diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Ahmet Kaptan, 65, a retired imam imprisoned on alleged links to the Gülen movement who has been struggling with gastrointestinal problems and lost 22 kilos, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the Aktif haber news website reported.

According to Kaptan’s wife, Hatice Kaptan, the cancer has metastasized to his liver and he is now in the hospital. She had previously appealed to the authorities for her husband’s release into house arrest for proper care after he lost 22 kilos in a short period of time.

Stomach cancer ran in Kaptan’s family, with both his brothers suffering from it. Kaplan’s first biopsy came back negative for cancer and he was diagnosed with gastritis. However, Kaplan, who now weighs 54 kilos, can barely eat or walk and has constantly been vomiting.

Hatice Kaptan had said her husband was in serious condition and can only take care of his daily needs with the help of his cellmates.

She said her husband’s current condition was due to late diagnosis, negligence and poor prison conditions.

Kaptan was arrested three years ago and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for association with the Gülen movement. His case is pending at Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim 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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing party with majority-Kurdish support, criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners until it is too late for them to receive effective treatment.

“They refuse to release the prisoners until it comes to the point of no return. They only release the prisoners when they realize they will die soon, not wanting them to die in prison,” he said.

He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals or infirmaries.

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