Rights group says Turkish radiologist languishes in jail

2017 09 01 18 31 9001 Turkish Flag 400

A human rights group in Sweden has picked up the case of a Turkish radiologist who it claims has been languishing in jail for the past year on trumped-up charges that he was connected with a coup against the Turkish government in 2016.

Dr. Murat Acar has been held in prison for nearly a year after being arrested in October 2016, according to a post published August 30 on the website of the Stockholm Center for Freedom. The center claims that he was subjected to "torture and ill treatment" for 18 days after his arrest and suffers from hypertension.

Dr. Murat Acar.Dr. Murat Acar.

Acar was apparently swept up in a wide-ranging crackdown implemented by the Turkish government in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt, in which units of the Turkish military attempted to seize control of government institutions in an effort to overthrow President Recep ErdoĞan. The coup was quickly squashed by troops loyal to the government, but ErdoĞan has responded with a massive purge in which tens of thousands of Turkish citizens have been arrested or lost their jobs.

Acar graduated from Istanbul University CerrahpaŞa Faculty of Medicine in 1996, and from 2007-2008 he worked in the radiology department at Brigham and Women's Hospital, according to the Stockholm Center for Freedom. He also served for three years as chairman of the department of radiology at Istanbul Medeniyet University, and he is the founder of the website AbdomenRad.com.

Acar was working as a professor and consulting radiologist at King Hamad University Hospital in Bahrain at the time he was arrested, according to the center. It claims that police in Bahrain raided his home and detained him; he was then turned over to Turkey by the Interpol section of Bahrain police.

In a hearing before a Turkish judge, Acar testified that he wasn't affiliated with any organization and was abroad long before the coup, the center reported. When he was informed by the Turkish Embassy in Bahrain that his passport was no longer valid, he sought humanitarian protection from the United Nations, but the move did not prevent his extradition.

Acar and his lawyer have filed a petition with the Constitutional Court of Turkey, charging that his detention violates the European Convention on Human Rights. He has been unable to access the government's charges and evidence against him because his case has been classified as "confidential," the group noted, and his motions to secure his own release have been rejected on the grounds that he is being held on suspicion of having committed a "high crime."

The Stockholm Center for Freedom was set up earlier this year by Turkish journalists who were forced to flee the country after the 2016 coup.

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