Opposition deputy criticizes lengthy detention of pregnant woman

The lengthy detention of a pregnant woman who has been in custody for five days on terrorism-related charges is in violation of her rights and as such, she should be released under judicial supervision, human rights defender and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu said in a statement on his online TV channel.

“What are you going to ask this woman?” Tanrıkulu asked. “If you want to get her testimony it would take two hours. Then you would take her to the prosecutor’s office and release under judicial supervision.”

Tanrıkulu did not share the woman’s identity nor the details of the case against her. But he said the charges were about her alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

“You didn’t find her connection to the organization until now. What are you going to find five years after the coup attempt?” Tanrıkulu asked. “Probably she had an account at Bank [Asya] or a phone conversation with a friend, that’s all.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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 a 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.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government accepted such activities as having an account at the now-closed Bank Asya, one of Turkey’s largest commercial banks at the time, and using the encrypted messaging application ByLock, which was available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged followers of the Gülen movement on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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