Former judge serving sentence on terrorism charges denied parole 

A former judge serving a prison sentence on conviction of “terrorist organization membership” has been denied parole despite being eligible since May 2023, the Tr724 news website reported

Hüsamettin Uğur, a former member of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals who is currently in Afyon T-Type prison, has been denied parole based on a bad conduct report. According to his daughter and lawyer Nalan Dilara Uğur, the report was issued completely arbitrarily by the prison board.

“Hüsamettin Uğur, my father and client, was supposed to be released in May,” she said in a post shared on X, formerly known as Twitter. “But he was graded 44.2 in his behavior report. Had he been graded 45, he could have obtained a good behavior report. These reports are issued completely arbitrarily, and nobody investigates their credibility.”

According to the Turkish Penal Code, people convicted of membership in a terrorist organization are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence.

However, prison authorities have made it increasingly difficult for political prisoners to benefit from parole by requiring good behavior reports, which are key for a prisoner to be eligible for parole. 

To legitimize the suspension of parole, prison authorities issue inmates bad behavior reports. According to prisoners, a bad behavior report could be issued for reasons such as “reading too many books,” “consuming too much water,” “meeting with the prison imam” or “attending the open university while in prison.”

Political prisoners in particular have been targeted by such practices, and lawyers say that many political prisoners who have been incarcerated for a long period of time are deliberately prevented from being released.

Uğur was purged from his job after a failed coup on July 15, 2016. He was later arrested and sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison in February 2019 for alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the coup attempt in 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Last year, Uğur wrote a five-page letter to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the Green Left Party (YSP), detailing poor prison conditions. The prison administration claimed one page was inappropriate. The letter was confiscated by the committee, and Uğur was disciplined for it.

Following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, 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, 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.

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