Prison administration denies former teacher convicted of Gülen links parole 

A former teacher imprisoned for links to the Gülen movement has been denied parole despite being eligible since September 2023, the Kronos news website reported

Former teacher Ahmet Ergül, 65, was arrested on March 17, 2017 to serve a 10-year sentence. He was accused of having an account in the now-closed Bank Asya, which had links to the movement, and being a member of associations that were linked to the movement. 

Turkish President Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric 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 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.

Ergül is currently in Turkey’s northwestern Burhaniye T-Type Prison. The prison’s Administrative and Observation Board had previously issued Ergül a good conduct report, which is key for parole. However, despite the report, the prison administration is now saying that in the event Ergül is released, he will continue his “terrorist activities.”

Ergül’s son expressed deep disappointment with the decision, saying it was arbitrary. “My father has been issued several good conduct reports, but now they’re completely disregarding their previous observations,” he said. “Many prisoners like my dad, who have been sentenced to more than 10 years of prison, have been denied parole. The administration needs to explain this.”

According to the Turkish Penal Code, people convicted of membership in a terrorist organization are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence. In recent years, many human rights defenders have highlighted the increasingly frequent denial of parole to eligible inmates by prison monitoring boards.

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