Ahmet Turan Özcerit, a UK-educated computer science professor who spent as long as 13 months under arrest as part of the government’s post-coup witch hunt, has passed away of liver cancer.
The academic’s son Sinan Özcerit said Monday that his father died at hospital.
Turan Özcerit obtained his master and PhD diplomas from the UK’s Sussex University before he started working at Sakarya University’s Faculty of Computer and Information Science. He was an associate professor at Sakarya University when the government dismissed him from the office over ties to the Gulen movement on Sep 1, 2016.
When he was dismissed he had already been jailed. While under pretrial detention, Özcerit was diagnosed with cancer in his liver and intestines. His son Sinan Özcerit has regularly shared updates regarding his father’s time in prison and about the academic’s ultimate release from prison to a hospital.
“They turned our home upside down. They seized some children’s books. They also seized a copy of the Count of Monte Cristo as evidence during a raid at our neighbor. They took away my father and we failed to hear from him for 3 days. Authorities have never answered our inquiries. We ultimately located him after 3 days and took some clean underwear to him. He said the detention conditions are awful. They let him only to stay in underclothes with his hands cuffed. When they [detainees] asked for water, they replied: ‘You don’t even deserve to drink water’. They beat my father and tortured him. We got doctor report for that. He was forced to stay with 20 other people in a 4-people cell. They slept in turns as there was no enough space for everyone to sleep at the same time. When he was transferred from police custody to prison, he said it was like a paradise to stay in prison comparing to the previous place,” Sinan earlier told media.
On Feb 12, the son announced that Özcerit passed away. “He will be buried in Ankara’s Karsiyaka cemetery,” he tweeted.
Turkish government accuses the Gulen movement of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt while the latter denies involvement. More than 150,000 people have lost their jobs while more than 60,000 have been put in pre-trial detention over links to the movement so far.