Turkish authorities have arrested and sent to prison Mustafa Şener, a former judge suffering from severe visual impairment who was sentenced to prison on conviction of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, Bold Medya reported on Thursday.
His wife, Fatma Şener, told Bold Medya that Mustafa Şener’s eyesight was 20 percent of a healthy person’s and that his visual impairment was documented in a medical report.
“A doctor’s examination would show whether he is fit to remain in prison,” Fatma Şener said.
Mustafa Şener has been handed down a prison sentence of six years, three months on terrorism-related charges due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement. The sole evidence against him was witness testimony from people who were in the same student houses when he was studying at university.
However, the conviction has not yet been upheld as the case remains pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals.
“He could have stayed free pending appeal or put under house arrest,” Fatma Şener said.
Also a former judge, Fatma Şener herself has a prison sentence of seven years, six months on the same charges. Her case is also pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals. In the event both their sentences are upheld, the couple can go to prison, leaving behind their children aged two, four and six.
Fatma Şener’s conviction was also based on witness testimony. Additionally, her name was mentioned in correspondence in ByLock, a mobile messaging application that the Turkish authorities claim was exclusively used among members of the Gülen movement.
On September 26, the European Court of Human Rights announced a landmark judgment, criticizing Turkey’s widespread use of ByLock as evidence of terrorism.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish 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 an abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, 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 civil servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces 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. In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.