Alaettin Duman, a Turkish teacher in Malaysia who was abducted by agents of Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) from Kuala Lumpur in 2016 over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, was sentenced by a Turkish court to 18 years in prison on Tuesday.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Duman defended himself before a judge at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court and said: “I ran my own business in Malaysia. I did not use ByLock. I did not give any kind of help to any organisation. I did not do anything illegal. I am innocent and demand my acquittal.”
However, Muhammad Karaca, the chief judge of the court, said when announcing the verdict that Duman was sentenced to 18 years in prison for “being an executive of the armed terrorist organisation” and that he was not being given any reduction in his sentence.
According to the indictment, Duman graduated from Marmara University’s physics department in 1993 and went to Uzbekistan in 1994. He returned to Turkey in January 2011 and he went to Malaysia in March of the same year. He lived in Malaysia until October 15, 2016, when he was abducted by Turkish intelligence.
The indictment accuses of Duman having engaged in activities for the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Uzbekistan. Later, he went to Malaysia and was involved in civil society activities and conducted dialogue activities among universities and nongovernmental organizations in Malaysia. He also chaired the Turkish-Malaysian Dialogue Foundation, which was established in 2008.
He was also accused of lending support to the activities of the TUSKON business confederation, which was closed by the Turkish government over its affiliation with the Gülen movement. The indictment also accused Duman of criticising the Turkish government in conversations during his stay Malaysia.
Duman had been subjected to beating, torture, death threats and staged executions during his pretrial detention in Ankara, according to his cellmate. His cellmate, identified only by the initials S.T., who has recently been released from jail, told exiled journalist Fatih Akalan during a video interview that Duman was threatened with death and subjected to staged executions on several occasions.
S.T. also called on foreign governments to avoid extraditing alleged followers of the Gülen movement to Turkey, where they face similar treatment.
Duman (47), one of founders of the Time International School, and Tamer Tıbık (43), general secretary of the Malaysian-Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry — Turkish nationals and believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement — were kidnapped on Malaysian soil in late 2016.
Duman and Tıbık were taken to a remote wooded area, subjected to torture and abuse and later turned over to Turkish officials to be taken back to Turkey. Both are currently locked up in Ankara’s Sincan Prison on trumped-up charges of terror.
Three Turkish nationals, Turgay Karaman, a school principal, İhsan Aslan, a businessman, and İsmet Özçelik, an academic, were also detained by Malaysian officials in Kuala Lumpur and deported to Turkey on May 11 2017. The trio was taken into custody upon their arrival in Ankara and later were jailed as part of investigations into the Gülen movement.
The UN and other intergovernmental organizations as well as credible NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have all reported widespread torture and abuse cases in Turkish prisons and detention centers. There have been other cases of attempted kidnapping in Malaysia as well according to reports received by SCF.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”