Woman imprisoned with 40-day-old infant on trumped-up terror charges denied parole

A woman who was arrested with her 40-day-old baby on trumped-up terror charges in 2016 was denied release from prison by the parole board despite her eligibility for parole, Bold Medya reported.

Suna Uslu was working at a private dormitory for university students when she was arrested on November 30, 2016, for alleged membership in the Gülen movement. She was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison. Her family is requesting her release as she has been eligible for parole for three months and the number of inmates with COVID-19 is increasing.

Uslu’s newborn baby boy, who is now three years old, grew up in prison with her. He had to leave her in March because the COVID-19 pandemic made prison life unsuitable for a young child. The family claims that the young child has been experiencing crying fits ever since he was separated from his mother. Uslu has two other children aged 11 and nine, who are desperate for their mother to be released.

Uslu’s husband, Mustafa Uslu, petitioned the Konya Ereğli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for the release of his wife, citing the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, which states that women who have children between the ages of 0 and 6 are eligible for early parole.

Uslu is not the only inmate waiting for parole. In a similar case, Hüseyin Yüce (61) who was sentenced to six years, three months’ imprisonment on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, has not been released from prison although he has been eligible for parole since May.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 540,000 people were detained on terrorism-related charges, more than 80,000 were arrested or imprisoned and over 150,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations.” The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement but included other people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.

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