Turkey’s Ağrı Prison is restricting the access of Alparslan Kuytul, leader of the Furkan Foundation, an anti-government religious group, to phone calls, which are normally allowed once every two weeks for 10 minutes, the Kronos news website reported.
The prison administration decision came after Kuytul’s calls were recorded and circulated on social media. He won’t be able call his family for a month, according to Kronos.
An outspoken critic of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kuytul and members of his foundation are facing growing pressure from the government for strongly advocating that religion and politics not mix and criticizing the AKP government for doing just that.
Turkish police in May detained Kuytul in connection to the abduction of a businessman in the southern province of Adana. Its members protested the detention of their founder and the pressure on their activities in various provinces during the year. In many cases police intervened in their demonstrations with tear gas and used excessive force against the protestors.
Kuytul was also arrested in 2018 for criticizing Turkey’s military involvement in northern Syria. He publicly opposed the government’s decision to send Turkish soldiers to Afrin, after which he was detained along with 28 other people from the foundation.
They were charged with “abusing their religious power” and “organizing a terrorist organization.” Kuytul was acquitted in 2020, but raids on members’ homes and offices in various cities have repeatedly taken place since then.