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“Syria acted as Turkey’s Guantanamo,” says exiled journo on torture claims

A former service member of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) has told Ankara’s 34th Heavy Penal Court that he was abducted by state agents and tortured at an unknown site in Syria, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Thursday.

Mesut Gecer who is being tried on terror charges made the allegations during his first hearing before the court.

Can Dündar, a Turkish veteran journalist in exile in Germany shared the report on Twitter, saying: “Syria has become Turkey’s Guantanamo.”

Gecer was expelled from his post on his alleged links to the Gulen movement, the group accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed coup in 2016. He alleged that people he knew in person forcibly kidnapped him at a fake checkpoint, according to Cumhuriyet.

“I started bleeding on Wednesday. After my condition worsened, they transferred me in the middle of the night to another place, which I know. From there, I was transferred on the night of June 20, 2018. I did not know where I was taken to. I noticed later on that this place was in Syria.” Mesut Gecer

Speaking in the first hearing held on December 3, 2019, Gecer claimed that he was held in illegal detention for 16 months before being arrested in Ankara Police Headquarters.

“When I was driving in the direction of Sincan Laleli (a district of Turkey’s capital Ankara), some people who I knew stopped my car and forced me into a car. I was being held in a cell. They began interrogating me on March 20, 2017, with my hands tied behind my back and a bag over my head. They also did something I cannot describe,” Geçer said in the court.

He further detailed how he was taken to Syria.

“I started bleeding on Wednesday. After my condition worsened, they transferred me in the middle of the night to another place, which I know. From there, I was transferred on the night of June 20, 2018. I did not know where I was taken to. I noticed later on that this place was in Syria,” he testified.

After 16 months in captivity, Gecer was taken back to Turkey and arrested at the Ankara police headquarters, according to journalist Alican Uludag’s report in Cumhuriyet.

“Adding 17 months of arrest to my 16 months in captivity, I have been away from my wife and children for around 33 months. I still suffer from injuries to my left leg and knee because of ill-treatment,” Gecer was quoted saying in the court.

Senel Sarihan, a deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and member of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, filed a motion in late May  2017 in the Turkish parliament and asked the then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım about the whereabouts of 11 persons including Mesut Gecer, online news site Birgun daily reported.

Turkey has expelled more than 100,000 civil servants and detained nearly the same number of people over alleged links to the Gulen movement in the aftermath of the attempted coup in 2016.

However, the crackdown has not been limited to dismissals and arrests. Opposition figures and human rights organizations raised many allegations of torture and abduction against various dissident groups.

Rogue operations by Turkish intelligence saw 28 people abducted following the failed coup attempt, according to the DW Turkish.

Police torture in Turkish capital condemned 

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