Gültekin Avcı, a former public prosecutor and columnist incarcerated in the western Turkish province of İzmir, was allegedly mistreated by prison guards on September 25, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Kronos news website.
The incident was recently made public by Gültekin’s wife, who said her husband was kicked and shoved by guards for not standing up during a ward count. “Gültekin takes medication, and it’s difficult for him to wake up and get out of bed when the guards come in to count. They normally allow him to just sit up in bed, but this time the guard just barged in, pulled him out of bed and kicked him,” she said.
Avcı repeatedly falls and has to take Xanax, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. A couple of months ago Avcı’s family said the prison administration did not provide him with the medication he needed, and his body was bruised from multiple falls.
Avcı is serving a life sentence that was handed down by an İstanbul court in December 2020 on conviction of attempting to overthrow the government with six columns he authored. His case is pending before an appeals court, and he has also filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.
The articles that landed Avcı behind bars famously targeted Tevhid-Selam, an Iran-backed espionage network in Turkey. Avcı claimed in his columns that the organization had penetrated the highest echelons of the Turkish government.
A criminal investigation into the network was launched in 2010 on the basis of testimony and documentation provided by a woman who fled from her abusive husband and informed counterterrorism police that her husband had been working for Iranian intelligence.
The network was allegedly involved in a number of unsolved political assassinations in Turkey, including those of Bahriye Üçok, Muammer Aksoy, Abdi İpekçi, Ahmet Kışlalı and Uğur Mumcu.
Following purges in the Turkish judiciary soon after the revelation of a graft scandal in December 2013 that implicated family members and close associates of then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, new prosecutors appointed to oversee the case decided on non-prosecution. The former judge and prosecutors were dismissed and subsequently imprisoned.