Computer science professor, jailed in Turkish government’s post-coup sweep, gets cancer diagnosis in prison

Under pre-trial arrest for 13 months over alleged links to the Gülen movement, Ahmet Turan Özcerit, who used to be an associate professor at Sakarya University’s Faculty of Computer and Information Science until he was dismissed, has been diagnosed with cancer in his liver and intestines.

Özcerit was arrested as part of a Sakarya-based investigation into the movement on August 8, 2016 and a post-coup emergency decree No 672 sacked him from the university on September 1, 2016. According to social media users, claimed to have knowledge on the issue, the indictment against Özcerit was prepared only 13 months after his jailing and Özcerit has developed serious medical problems since then.

“Five weeks ago, he was taken from Bandırma Prison to a hospital with some problems including intense pains, lack of appetite, excess weight loss in short time. When the hospital in Bandırma district [in Balıkesir province] failed to treat him, he was referred to the Atatürk Training and Research Hospital in İzmir province where he was diagnosed with tumor in his liver and intestines. Also, the tumors had already metastasized to different parts of his body.”

The people on social media claimed that Özcerit’s could be a terminal cancer as was the case in jailed judge, Mustafa Erdoğan’s infection that left him died immediately after his release from prison.

Judge Mustafa Erdoğan, who was member of the Turkish Court of Cassation, also jailed over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, died in critical care after being released from prison in late August this year. Judge Erdoğan was denied right to trial without arrest despite his illness. His family members were also not allowed to accompany him until he was released before he died.

Özcerit’s children as well as his wife have also been denied request to see him in prison.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with

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