Turkish authorities arrest pregnant asylum seeker pushed back from Greece

Turkish authorities arrested a pregnant woman on Saturday after she was pushed back from Greece, where she had fled to seek asylum, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Eda Nur Akkaya, 28, who is currently in the seventh month of her pregnancy, suffers from several complications such as extreme weight loss and is at risk of early labor. She was arrested along with her husband for links to the Gülen movement.

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 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.

The Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures stipulates that even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence shall be postponed. According to the law, “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.”

Despite the regulations several pregnant women have recently been arrested for links to the movement.

Akkaya and her husband were both former teachers. They were summarily dismissed from their jobs with government decrees. They were accused of having bank accounts in the now-closed Bank Asya, which was linked to the movement. They were also accused of staying in dormitories linked to movement as students.

After learning she was pregnant, Akkaya decided to leave the country so she wouldn’t have to raise a child in prison. They managed to cross the Evros River safely, but Greek authorities pushed them back to Turkey.

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; some were pushed back to Turkey by Greek security; and others perished on their way to Greece.

The purge victims had to leave the country illegally because the government had revoked their passports.

According to a Eurostat report for 2008-2020, Turkish citizens are among the top asylum seekers in EU countries, ranking seventh in a list of countries whose citizens sought asylum in the EU in 2020

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