Former teacher convicted of links to Gülen movement denied parole despite eligibility

A former teacher serving a prison sentence on conviction of “terrorist organization membership” has been denied parole despite being eligible since July 2022, the Tr724 news website reported.

Former history teacher Seyit Ahmet Aydın was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement. He is currently in western Turkey’s Manisa Akhisar prison. Aydın’s wife, in a video posted on social media, said her husband was kept in prison despite meeting all the criteria for parole.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the faith-based Gülen movement 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 on July 15, 2016 that he accused Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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.

Authorities have made it increasingly difficult for political prisoners to benefit from parole by requiring good behavior reports. Aydın’s wife explained her husband had obtained two good behavior reports. “When will my husband will be released? She asked. “Justice has died.”

Adding that her two sons had grown up without their father, Aydın’s wife called on the authorities to immediately release her husband. 

Many political prisoners and especially journalists are still awaiting parole despite having served the stipulated amount of time in prison .

In some cases, inmates are not released because their prison sentences have not yet been upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals. However, even though some political prisoners signed waivers saying they accepted the lower court’s verdict and did not want to wait for a decision on the appeal, they were not granted parole.

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