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Elderly prisoner gets 11 days in solitary for expressing hope for release

Ali Osman Karahan, an 87-year-old Turkish man who has been in an Isparta prison for almost 15 months over alleged links to the Gülen movement, was given 11 days of solitary confinement for putting other inmates at ease by saying, “If you’re not guilty, you will be released one day.”

“I can’t believe my eyes. They sentenced an 87-year-old man to 11 days’ solitary confinement for declaring his hope for release. @abdulhamitgut, read this ruling. Is your conscience OK with it? Unbelievable…” rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu tweeted on Monday, in reference to Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.

Witnesses questioned before the decision said Karahan would tell other inmates: “I can’t predict what’s to come in the future. As Said Nursi put it, you will be released if you are not guilty.”

An investigation was launched into Karahan after he was reported to have told family members during a prison visit that other inmates had been asking him to pray to God for their release.

An advanced-stage prostate cancer patient who has only one kidney left, Karahan is a former disciple of the Ottoman-Kurdish scholar Said Nursi, the teachings of whom later inspired Turkey’s Gülen movement.

In its decision for the punishment, the Isparta E Type Prison’s disciplinary board said Karahan was disseminating the propaganda of a criminal group.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

The movement denies any involvement. However, the Turkish 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.

More than 130,000 people have been in police custody and 60,000 of them, like Karahan, have been put in pretrial detention.

Karahan made news last week as well after the government tried to transfer him to a prison in Afyonkarahisar, a province located some 100 kilometers from Isparta. (Turkey Purge)

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