Mother of 3 arrested by Turkish police while fleeing to Greece

A mother of three was arrested by Turkish police on September 17 as she was trying to flee to Greece to seek asylum, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Sümeyye Aksoy, whose youngest child is 2 years old, was arrested with five other asylum seekers in western İzmir province. She had been sentenced to six years, eight months in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement, but the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the sentence and Aksoy is now facing a retrial.

A former public servant, Aksoy was accused of sending her children to private schools affiliated with the movement and having a bank account in the now-closed, Gülen-linked Bank Asya. She was arrested after a coup attempt in 2016 and sent to İzmir Şakran prison for 14 months.

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

Afraid of having to serve time and being separated from her children in the event her retrial results in another prison sentence, Aksoy decided to leave the country.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Thousands of public servants were jailed, and scores of others had to flee Turkey to avoid government crackdown.

Purge victims who wanted to flee the country to avoid the post-coup crackdown took dangerous journeys across the Evros River or the Aegean Sea. Some were arrested by Turkish security forces and some were pushed back to Turkey by Greek security, while others perished on their way to Greece.


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