Ramazan Açıkgöz, who was convicted of alleged links to the Gülen movement, died of a heart attack Tuesday evening, one day before he was due to be released from prison, the Bold Medya news website reported.
Açıkgöz, 54, was arrested soon after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 and was tried, convicted and sentenced to nine years, four months in prison. He had been eligible for parole and was due to be released today. The father of three had been incarcerated in the same prison as his son, who was also arrested on similar charges.
According to his family Açıkgöz had not been suffering from any chronic illness but had contracted COVID-19 twice. In the first case he was critically ill and had to be hospitalized.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
According to a statement from the Turkish interior minister, a total of 332,884 people have been detained, of whom 101,000 were arrested and jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.