Woman serving sentence for conviction of Gülen links complains of insects and foul odors in cell

A mother of three who was arrested to serve a sentence for conviction of links to the Gülen movement told her family during a visit on Thursday that her cell was infested with insects and smelled like a sewer, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Nagehan Yüksel told her family that sewer pipes ran beneath her cell, causing a terrible smell. She said she found bugs in her clothes and that the food was terrible. Yüksel is currently in Istanbul’s Bakırköy Prison but has asked to be transferred to a prison in central Turkey’s Eskisehir province, which is closer to her family home.

Despite provisions in the Law on the Execution of Penalties, which stipulates that inmates be transferred to prisons closer to their families if they so request, Yüksel’s appeals were rejected by prison administration.

Yüksel was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her husband Ufuk Yüksel was arrested on similar charges and has been in Eskişehir Prison for the last six years. Their youngest child, 5-year-old Yiğit Yusuf, is in the care of his aunt, while their other children, aged 9 and 13, are with their grandmother.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, after the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members and inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. They intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that they accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The Turkish government accepted such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, working at any institution linked to the movement or subscribing to certain newspapers and magazines as benchmarks for identifying and arresting tens of thousands alleged members of the movement on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Inmates in Turkish prisons continuously complain of terrible conditions. Many inmates said they did not have access to healthcare, proper nutrition or hot water. Some inmates said their cells were not properly heated during winter and that cells were overcrowded and filthy.

According to a statement by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, as of November 15, 2021 a total of 319,587 people had been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

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