Man captured by MİT abroad over terrorist links claims he was tortured in Turkey for 87 days

Savaş Çelik

A man who was reported to have been captured abroad due to alleged terrorist links and brought to Turkey in July claimed that he was actually transported to the country in April and tortured for 87 days before his capture was covered by state media, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Artı Gerçek news website.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported on July 20, citing a security source, that Turkish intelligence officers apprehended Savaş Çelik, code-named Zerdest, who was allegedly a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and involved in the killing of gendarmerie commander Maj. Arslan Kulaksız in 2015, abroad.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, has waged a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.

Çelik was brought back to Turkey “in an operation conducted by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) before fleeing to Europe,” Anadolu said without specifying which country he was brought back from.

The Interior Ministry also released a statement saying Çelik was brought to Turkey in July.

According to Artı Gerçek, Çelik’s lawyers learned after speaking to him in an Erzurum prison that he was detained by law enforcement officers while he was in Lebanon planning to go to Europe and was handed over to officers from Turkey, where he was brought and subjected to torture for nearly three months.

The lawyers then detected many irregularities in the investigation file, one of them being the lack of information about the place where Çelik was caught. Although the ministry and Anadolu said Çelik was captured abroad, his place of arrest in July was shown in the file as the eastern Turkish province of Muş.

Seeing that the prosecutor didn’t put on the record Çelik’s statements about his place of arrest and the torture he had suffered for three months during the interrogation, they filed a criminal complaint against the relevant officers on charges that include “torture and inhuman treatment,” “deprivation of liberty” and “forgery of official documents.”

They said in the petition that the crimes were committed between April and July 2022, Çelik was actually handed over to Turkish officers on April 24 and was tortured for 87 days until he was shown in the official documents to have been arrested in Muş on July 20.

According to the lawyers, Çelik lost 22 kilos within the stated period and the torture he suffered included being beaten until losing consciousness, being held in a dark and narrow space where it was impossible to sit and where breathing was very difficult with his hands tied and eyes blindfolded, suffering electric shocks on the hands, feet, kidneys and genitals and raped with a baton.

Çelik, who is observed by the lawyers to have difficulty in speaking, focusing and perceiving what’s being said due to the torture he had suffered, told them that the people who tortured him also threatened to do the same to his wife and children, Artı Gerçek said.

Upon finding out that no action was taken regarding the criminal complaint, lawyer Şule Recepoğlu filed another complaint accusing the relevant officers, including the prosecutor in the case, of negligence and abuse of public duty.

The lawyers also reportedly sent a complaint to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Oct. 13 regarding the violation of rights that include the “abduction, torture, wrongful arrest and detention” of their client.

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