Turkish journalist detained in Cairo makes Twitter appeal

Turkish journalist detained in Cairo makes Twitter appeal

TRT reporter Metin Turan, seen in Cairo's Al-Fateh Mosque before being detained by the Egyptian police, appealed to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu via his Twitter account to secure his release from prison. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

September 30, 2013, Monday/ 12:21:00

Metin Turan, a Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) reporter who has been detained in Egypt since mid-August, asked to be released “before the prison turns into a bloodbath,” in remarks aimed at Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

“We are doing whatever is necessary. Our embassy in Cairo is in contact with the Egyptian authorities. We always keep the detention of Turkish citizens on the agenda at every meeting,” said a senior Turkish diplomat, speaking to Today's Zaman on condition of anonymity. The Foreign Ministry continues to receive information on Turan from Egyptian officials.

The TRT reporter broke his long silence on the social networking site Twitter, pleading for officials to “save him.”

Turan was detained on Aug. 17 in Cairo's Al-Fateh Mosque while covering the military crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. After being detained by Egyptian security forces on Aug. 18, he was first sent to Egypt's Tora prison complex in northern Cairo and later to the Wadi El Natrun prison complex in southern Cairo, where he is still waiting to be released.

Since then, the Egyptian authorities have extended Turan's detention two times on the grounds that the legal process of his detention remains unfinished. His detention was first extended for 15 days at the beginning of September.

That detention period expires at the end of September. On Monday, the Egyptian authorities were expected to announce whether Turan will be released or his detention time will be extended a third time.

Meanwhile, Turkish Ambassador to Egypt Hüseyin Avni Botsalı, who was recalled to Ankara in late August for consultations and then returned to Egypt in early September, told Today's Zaman that the embassy is continuing its efforts to free Turan and that embassy officials, including Botsalı, regularly visit Turan to observe his condition.

“We are in close contact with Turan's family and I, myself, am following the issue here very closely. We are waiting for the Egyptian authorities' decision. Also, all our citizens are under the protection of our embassy,” said Botsalı.

Reşat Öztürk, an employee working in Egypt, is another Turkish citizen who has been arrested by the Egyptian authorities on spying charges.

Turan shared a series of messages on his Twitter account, stating that he was able to post the tweets via a relative who came to visit him. The messages addressed Davutoğlu, asking him to intervene in Turan's release.

Noting that he had been behind bars for 44 days, Turan wrote that conditions in the prisons were harsh and that the prisoners were close to going on a hunger strike, finally asking to be saved “before the prison turns into a bloodbath.”

When combined, his tweets said: “Hello, my dear friends. I thank those who pray for me. I can contact you through a relative who came to visit me. Thank God, I'm all right but the prison conditions are too harsh here. I've been in the prison for 44 days and am still held captive. We, 36 people, sleep on concrete in a 40-square-meter area. There are two toilets and no bath. Dear Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a hunger strike is about to start because the detention period stretches on for the prisoners here, which might end in chaos. I ask you to save me before this place turns into a bloodbath. Doesn't Turkey have allies? They could release me here if Turkey made contact with the United Arab Emirates.”

When asked whether Turkey would contact the UAE, the same diplomat replied that Turkey would not make a request to any country for the release of Turan.

Turkey and some Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, have adopted opposing stances on the coup in Egypt, as Ankara condemned the coup while some Gulf states welcomed it and funneled financial aid to the Egyptian military regime.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi stated that Egypt expects the Turkish government to retract its harsh remarks regarding the recent situation in Egypt.

Turkey has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of former President Morsi's removal, calling it an "unacceptable coup." Turkey announced that it does not recognize the coup administration in Egypt and still considers Morsi to be the country's “legitimate president.” Rhetoric on both sides heated up as Turkish officials maintained their critical stance towards the coup administration while the Egyptian side accused Ankara of interfering in its domestic affairs.

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