Jailed Turkish academic hospitalized due to COVID-19

Prof. Sedat Laçiner is seen in Çanakkale Prison.

Renowned Turkish academic and political scientist Prof. Dr. Sedat Laçiner, who was jailed as part of a political crackdown on dissent in the wake of a failed military coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, has been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Samanyoluhaber news website.

According to the report Laçiner’s ward has been under quarantine for some time. Already suffering from diabetes and hypertension, Laçiner was hospitalized this week after his condition worsened.

Authorities did not tell his family to which hospital the academic had been admitted.

According to information provided by his relatives, poor conditions in Çanakkale Prison caused medical complications for Laçiner, including a herniated disk, allergic skin lesions and bronchitis, conditions for which his appeals to seek treatment were ignored by the prison administration.

Laçiner, the former rector of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, was detained on July 20, 2016, five days after the failed coup, and arrested by a court on July 22, 2016 over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a terrorist organization following the abortive putsch. Laçiner was sentenced to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison in 2018, after his conviction of membership in the Gülen movement.

Inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, the movement denies all accusations of masterminding the coup attempt.

The Turkish parliament passed an early parole law on April 14 aimed at reducing the inmate population of the country’s overcrowded prisons due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the legislation excluded political prisoners, including opposition politicians, journalists, lawyers, academics and human rights defenders convicted under the country’s controversial counterterrorism laws. The law prompted calls from the UN, the EU and rights groups for the non-discriminatory reduction of prison populations.

Laçiner studied at Ankara University and the University of Sheffield, where he was awarded an M.A. with distinction in international politics, and King’s College London, where he earned his Ph.D. Since 2001, he had been teaching international relations and international security at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University and the National Police Academy Security Studies Institute in Ankara. Professor Laçiner was appointed rector of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in 2011, becoming the youngest rector in Turkey.

Laçiner was editor of the Journal of Administrative Studies and Review of International Law and Politics as well as a regular contributor to TRT and other Turkish television and radio broadcasts. He was also chairman of the Journal of Turkish Weekly, a regular columnist for the Star newspaper and general coordinator of Ankara-based think tank the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO).

He was in addition appointed as adviser to the president of the Higher Education Board (YÖK).

Laçiner is the author/co-author or editor of numerous books and articles, including “Iraq Global War and Turkey,” “The Iraq Crisis,” “Turks and Armenians,” “The World and Turkey,” “European Union with Turkey, Turkey’s Membership’s Impact on the EU,” “The Armenian Diaspora” and “Britain from a Different Perspective.”

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