Ankara dismisses detained diplomats' claims of sexual, physical abuse - Fox News

Ankara has staunchly denied claims by Turkish foreign ministry personnel that they were sexually assaulted with truncheons and threatened with rape while under police custody after being detained last month, Fox News reported.

Over 70 diplomats were detained on May 20 as part of an ongoing crackdown on the Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt and designates a terrorist organisation. The clandestine Islamic movement is said to have infiltrated state institutions in an attempt to spread the influence of Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen.

The ministry officials are accused of involvement in irregularities during foreign ministry entrance exams between 2010 and 2013.

“Some of the suspects had answered the essay sections in the exam in 2010 with the exact sentences” and some used the “same expressions” and displayed advanced knowledge of a foreign language in some parts and a primary school knowledge in others, Fox News said.

One diplomat said if they refused to ‘’confess,’’ they were sexually assaulted with truncheons and threatened with rape.

“Some of those tortured are on the verge of losing their mental health. Some of those who have been conditionally released are under strict surveillance by the police and intelligence,” the diplomat added.

The Ankara Bar Association on May 28 published the findings of an investigation, which backed the claims, that former Foreign Ministry employees were beaten, threatened and violated after being detained in the country’s capital Ankara. 

Amnesty International has corroborated reports and called for the Turkish government to open an independent investigation, Fox News said.

The Ankara Police Department, however, has denied the claims of abuse or maltreatment, stating that all procedures have been carried out in accordance with the law.

“Turkey firmly upholds the principle of the rule of law,” Fox News quoted a Foreign Ministry representative as saying. “Arrest and detention procedures are being conducted in accordance with the national legislation that is compatible with international human rights standards. Allegations that question our commitment to eliminate all acts of torture or inhuman treatment are groundless.”

Some critics are questioning the timing of the detentions, almost three years after the purge of  Gülenists from government offices.

“The timing of detentions and the brutal treatment of purged diplomats indicate that the government’s crackdown has less to do with irregularities in Turkey’s foreign service recruitment process, and more to do with intimidating [Ahmet] Davutoglu to discourage him from establishing a splinter party that could ultimately undermine Erdogan,” Aykan Erdemir, a former member of Turkish parliament and now Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News.

Following the 2016 coup attempt, more than 510,000 people have passed through police custody and some 100,000 have been remanded in pre-trial detention.

Organisations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have reported on torture and abuse in Turkish jails and prisons, particularly following the failed putsch.

A 2017 HRW report included details of police beating and threatening detainees with sexual assault and rape in order to obtain confessions of membership to terrorist organisations.