Turkish police arrest four men missing for months amid terror investigation

Turkish police have arrested four men under investigation over terror links, who were in police custody after going missing in February, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Saturday.

The four are among six men who were the subjects of an investigation into the Gülen movement, a religious group accused by Turkey of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, and went missing in February. Ankara police on July 28 announced that the men were in police custody, following months long claims by friends and family that they had been abducted by police.

Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya, Erkan Irmak and Salim Zeybek, who were sacked from their jobs through a government decree in the aftermath of the failed putsch, were arrested following an interrogation by the prosecutor’s office, Deutsche Welle said.

No reason was given for the arrest and the men were denied access to their lawyers, it said.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu labelled the arrests  “another legal scandal in Turkey,‘’ noting that lawyers of the men had been completely sidelined and removed from the courthouse during a hearing the judges ruled for the official arrest of four men.

Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasted the Turkish judicial system over the arrests.

“4 men held in police custody for 12 days after being disappeared for over 5 months tonight remanded to pretrial detention by court. The families’ lawyers barred from seeing them, the men pressured to say nothing,‘’ HRW Turkey Director Emma Sinclair-Webb said on Twitter.

Academic and human rights advocate Kerem Altıparmak said the judge omitted an important detail in failing to ask the men where they had been for six months.

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, once allied to the Gülen movement, has since the 2016 coup attempt thrown some 50,000 alleged members in jail, while dismissed some 130,000 civil servants for alleged links to the group.