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49-year-old journalist diagnosed with cancer in prison dies 2 months after release

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Mevlüt Öztaş, 49, a Turkish journalist who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in prison, died on Wednesday after he was released for health reasons two months ago, the tr724 news website reported.

He had worked for the now-closed Cihan news agency for eight years and was arrested by a Turkish court over alleged Gülen links in February 2018.

Turkey accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement.

The government has been pursuing a large-scale crackdown on followers of the movement, including judges, prosecutors, soldiers, police officers, journalists, businesspeople and even housewives.

According to his daughter Büşra, who launched a social media campaign after her father’s health deteriorated in prison, Öztaş could have been saved if the prison administration had allowed him to receive proper hospital treatment.

Human rights defenders often cite access to health services as the biggest challenge facing prisoners in Turkey, in addition to overcrowding and unclean conditions.

Öztaş survived several surgeries under poor prison conditions, his daughter said on Twitter.

He was also diagnosed with renal insufficiency and asthma during his two-year long detention.

Finally, on June 24 he was released for health reasons after a committee report stated that prison conditions would not be good for his deteriorating situation. He had already been sentenced to nine years, three months over Gülen links.

He had a rare type of pancreatic cancer, his daughter said, referring a doctor she spoke with.

In the final stage Öztaş had multiple organ failure before losing his fight for life.

“My father … was killed [by the judicial system],” Büşra Öztaş tweeted on Wednesday, at around 2 p.m. local time, referring to the negligence of Turkish officials.

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