Rights groups call for release of 87-year-old ailing man jailed on Gülen links

Adem Cirit (87)

Human rights groups have campaigned on social media urging Turkey’s authorities to release Adem Cirit, an 87-year-old inmate who has been convicted of links to the Gülen movement.

Cirit is reportedly suffering from a broken leg and arm due to falling down as well as a number of health problems connected to his old age, such as incontinence, an inability to bend his joints and cognitive impairment, according to journalists and activists who took to social media to campaign with the tag “Free Grandpa Adem.”

He has been sentenced to more than six years in prison due to his involvement with the Gülen movement, such as providing scholarships to students, affiliation with Gülen-linked associations and depositing money at Bank Asya, a financial institution that was shut down by government decree, according to journalist Hasan Cücük.

Cirit was kept behind bars after a Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) report found him fit to remain in prison, which was issued in spite of two separate hospital reports that recommended postponing the execution of his sentence.

The ATK in recent years has drawn criticism for its questionable reports on sick prisoners, particularly in the cases of those incarcerated on politically motivated charges.

Human rights defenders such as forensic medicine expert Şebnem Korur Fincancı have accused the institution of lacking independence.

Every year, human rights NGOs report the death of dozens of sick prisoners either behind bars or shortly after their belated release, which typically comes at an advanced stage of their illness.

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 in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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