Mehdi Başoğlu, a 22-year-old recent university graduate from Istanbul, lost his chance to enter US with the Green Card Diversity program due to an arrest warrant Turkish government issued against him as part of the post-coup crackdown.
Bold online news portal reported Tuesday that Basoglu was caught in the government’s post-coup witch-hunt just after he won the US Green Card lottery.
When he tried to leave Turkey for Azerbaijan to say goodbye to his family members, border police detained him on an outstanding arrest warrant on charge of membership to the Gulen movement.
Back in the time, Basoglu said, his family members had already fled Turkey to Azerbaijan and then to Canada in a bid to escape the government’s crackdown in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 failed coup.
Basoglu told Bold that he spent 10 months in pre-trial detention over Gulen links and was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in jail on terrorism charges.
The evidence that the court used in its ruling against Basoglu include his alleged use of ByLock mobile app and his years at a Gulen movement linked college as a student.
Following his release from the prison on judicial control that generally comes with an overseas travel ban on passport, Basoglu crossed Turkey-Greece border and ended up in Athens as an asylum seeker.
He stopped by the US consulate in Athens, seeking to use his expired lottery ticket to enter US, to no avail.
The US requires those who are selected in the lotter to apply to the designated US consulate during the US fiscal year and to step on the US soil in a specified period.
“I had many dreams. I was planning to pursue an academic career on cinema. I had several short movie projects in my mind, and I always dreamt about producing something useful. Looking at where I have ended up now, I am far from my dreams, trying to earn a living,” Basoglu said.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and an ensuing crackdown has left thousands of victims behind. Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against all kinds of opposition.
More than 510,000 people have been detained and some 100,000 including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, policemen and many from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention since last summer.
Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.