A signature campaign has been launched on the change.org website demanding the release of journalist Mevlüt Öztaş, who was diagnosed with cancer while in jail but was not released despite a medical report recommending it.
Öztaş has been in prison for two-and-a-half years for alleged membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement.
He was recently sentenced to nine-years, three months by a local court, which was upheld by a higher court.
Öztaş, a father of four, had worked for the private Cihan news agency, affiliated with the movement, for more than 20 years. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while in jail and is currently at stage four of the disease.
The signature campaign was launched by Öztaş’s daughter, Büşra, after the İzmir Regional Court in western Turkey refused to release her father despite a medical report from an Ankara hospital suggesting that Öztaş is unfit to remain in prison.
“I am a daughter who is struggling for the life of her father and I need your support. Please help me to save my father from dying,” says Büşra in the campaign brief.
Turkey has released thousands of inmates due to the threat of coronavirus spreading in penal facilities, but it excluded political prisoners, including dozens of journalists who were jailed on accusations of violating the country’s counterterrorism laws.
Many observers believe the laws have been used against critics of the government.