Turkish gov’t critic arrested shortly after his release

A Turkish court on Saturday morning ordered the rearrest of Alparslan Kuytul, chairman of a religious foundation in Turkey, after the prosecutor appealed a previous ruling.

He was released pending trial by the Adana 4th High Criminal Court on Thursday subject to a travel ban.

“[The government] doesn’t like a cleric like me. They want clerics to talk about prayers only. They don’t want criticism,” Kuytul told reporters outside the prison after his release.

Furkan Foundation chair Kuytul, a fierce critic of the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) in his speeches, was detained for the first time in February 2018 for allegedly spreading the propaganda of the faith-based civic Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The indictment includes 44 other members of the foundation, which has been run by a government trustee appointed by the Adana court since Kuytul’s arrest. Kuytul faces a sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Meanwhile, Semra Kuytul, the wife of Alparslan Kuytul, was briefly detained on Sunday over her social media posts. She was reportedly released the same day. Turkish police have barricaded the apartment block in which the Kuytul family lives and closed roads leading to the building.

“Immediate arrest after release” has become a common practice in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan enjoys total control over the judicial system. Judges and prosecutors who released critical defendants in the past were either fired or suspended.

Eren Erdem, a former Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, was arrested one day after he was released on January 8, 2019.

Since a failed coup on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has jailed its critics on terrorist propaganda charges, using speeches, social media posts and newspaper columns as evidence. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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