Turkish authorities yet to start investigation into disappearance of purged public servant after 15 days

A prosecutor still has not been assigned to investigate the case of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, a former civil servant who went missing 15 days ago and is feared to have been abducted by Turkish intelligence.

In a video interview with Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist and lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Küçüközyiğit’s daughter Nursena said she had to “investigate” the circumstances surrounding her father’s disappearance herself.

Nursena Küçüközyiğit said she was able to obtain security camera footage from the building her father worked in and saw three men following him. The recordings were circulated widely on social media with the hashtag “#HüseyinGalibibulun” (FindHüseyinGalip).

Emphasizing that she was worried something terrible had happened to him, Nursena said that every passing day was important for finding her father.

“A prosecutor has not been assigned to this incident, which adds to our worries because every day security camera recordings from surrounding buildings are erased,” she said.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights defender and deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), tweeted that he had posed a parliamentary question on the disappearance. “If they wanted to, the authorities could easily find where this man is,” he said.

Rebecca Harms, a former member of the EU Parliament, on Twitter urged Turkish authorities to take the disappearance of Küçüközyiğit seriously.

Küçüközyiğit was a successful lawyer who served as the chief legal counsel for the Turks Abroad and Related Communities Agency (YTB). He was fired from his job by a government decree in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016. He was later sentenced to six years, three months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization” due to his alleged ties to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. Küçüközyiğit was released from pretrial detention pending appeal.

Nursena Küçüközyiğit had posted a video on Twitter on January 3, announcing that her father went missing on December 29., He was supposed to join his daughters for New Year’s Eve. She said they did not hear from him and contacted the police, who did not help them or respond to their questions.

Nursena said her father was living an ordinary life and that there was no reason for him to leave them without saying where he was going. The only thing they could think of was that he was abducted.

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 Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan 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.

Nearly 30 people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence since 2016. Most of the abductions targeted members of the Gülen movement. Many of the abductees mysteriously reappeared in police custody in Ankara after six to nine-month absences.

Apparently intimidated, most of them had kept their silence after their reappearance. Speaking at a court hearing in February 2020, one of the abductees, Gökhan Türkmen, revealed that he had been held incommunicado at a black site in Ankara run by Turkey’s intelligence agency and subjected to severe torture during his 271-day stay. Türkmen was the object of threats and was sexually harassed and abused during his enforced disappearance. He also alleged that he was visited in prison and threatened no less than six times by officials who introduced themselves as intelligence officers, pressuring him to retract his allegations of abduction and torture made at the February hearing.

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