Hüseyin Yüce (61), who was sentenced to six years, three months’ imprisonment on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, has not been released from prison despite the fact that he has been eligible for parole since May.
Speaking to Bold Medya, his daughter Vesile Cingöz said her father was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization based on witness testimony only because he had attended private religious gatherings.
According to Cingöz, Yüce’s sentence was initially approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals, but the court later decided to re-examine the case due to the objection of the prosecutor. The court has yet to make a final decision, resulting in a delay in Yüce’s release.
Cingöz said her family has suffered much in the process. She herself was recently released after five months in jail. Her husband and her brother are also in prison. “My father was arrested two weeks before my wedding and couldn’t attend the ceremony,” she said. Her husband, a teacher, has been in prison for 29 months.
Cingöz’s elder brother Yusuf Yüce, a medical doctor, is also in the same prison as his father and brother-in-law in the western city of Burdur. He has been in prison for 17 months and was sentenced to eight years, nine months, pending appeal. Yüce’s wife has suffered greatly in the process and has had facial paralysis.
Cingöz said her mother’s health was also badly affected due to the suffering of her husband and sons. She has been on a psychiatric medication for the last four years. According to Cingöz, it was especially difficult when she, her father and her brother were all in prison in three different cities. Luckily, her father, husband and brother are at least in the same prison now.
All of them were accused of membership in the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding an attempted coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization.” The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his government on a range of issues including corruption, increasing authoritarianism and meddling in the Syrian civil war on the side of jihadists. His followers have been persecuted since what is widely known as the December 17 and 25, 2013 corruption investigations that implicated Erdoğan, his son, four ministers and his close associates.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist plot, Erdoğan whitewashed the accusations, purging and eventually imprisoning all the police officers and prosecutors involved in the probes. Then he designated the movement as a terrorist organization and initiated a never-ending witch hunt against its followers, which became massive in scale after the coup attempt.