Opposition deputy calls for release of jailed journalist diagnosed with stage 4 cancer

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A jailed Turkish journalist was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, an opposition deputy reported, calling on the government to release him for proper treatment amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a rights activist and Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy, said the prison management had delayed the journalist’s transfer to a hospital in Ankara.

“Isn’t it a genocide?” Gergerlioğlu tweeted.

Mevlüt Öztaş has been in jail for two-and-a-half years for alleged membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement.

Öztaş had been working for the Cihan news agency, a Gülen-affiliated media outlet.

Following the coup attempt Turkey jailed hundreds of journalists, charging them with terrorism.

According to a report on the tr724 news website, Öztaş was brought to a local hospital in Afyon province, where he has been jailed, three weeks ago for a cholecystectomy.

His family – a wife and four children — was not informed, the report said.

With no news from their loved one, the Öztaş family reached out to the prison management. They were told that the father was transferred to an Ankara hospital after a serious diagnosis.

The family had struggled for two weeks to travel to Ankara under coronavirus measures. When they finally saw Öztaş, they also learned about the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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