Letter from a prisoner

Letter from a prisoner

Last weekend, some friends forwarded me a letter written by Rear Adm. Turgay Erdağ, who has been imprisoned for the past year at the military Hadımköy prison in connection with the so-called “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) case. It is a three-page-long letter, thus I will make a comprehensive summary of it to fit it into this column.

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“My dear friends and associates, we have opened our eyes to a beautiful and sunny morning. As has been the case for the past year and a bit, we could not see the sun without bars in front of us. Again, we woke up to a day away from our wives and children. Since being placed behind bars, I have been able to see my wife and 12-year-old son once a month; each time only for a one-hour period. In this period, I have been able to see my parents, who are in their 80s, only once and only for one hour. Just imagine what you could fill into those one-hour periods. You may [store up], for example, your longings, the smell of your kids, the many things you would want to tell them. And, at the end of that one-hour period, you would rub the tears in your eyes with your sleeve as you look back at your beloved ones departing and leaving you in that cage.

“Can you imagine what kind of torture this is, particularly if you have not done anything wrong and you are being kept in prison for more than one year? Why are we in prison, do you know? We are in prison because the gathering of evidence – which ought to have been collected before you are taken in – has not yet been completed for the past two years. We are in because of the probability that we might alter the evidence which has not yet been collected. We are in because of our professional status. We are in despite the fact that we all surrendered to justice with our own free will but somehow there is still the suspicion that we might escape. We are under arrest because the crime we are accused of having committed is listed among the “catalogue crimes” [crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the special courts of serious crimes].

“I have a call for you. Please come and get to know what kind of people we are; who we are; what our worldview is; what we look like. Come and see our families; look into the eyes of our kids. Get to know our friends. Particularly, if you are suspicious of us or hate us, come and see who we are. Come and see with what crimes we are being accused on what evidence. Come just for the sake of seeing the evidence produced against us. Come and see how we would bomb the mosques and see with your naked eyes how people accused of planning to bomb mosques have made a mockery out of that charge. Come and see how we, the accused, made a mockery of the claim that we would have downed our own jet fighters.

“The deans, academics, students, all the men of law of Turkey, come and take a copy of the indictment of our case; examine it; discuss its compatibility with the notion of law; examine the appeal to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors by our lawyers against the prosecutors who prepared that indictment. Examine the evidence. Check the compatibility with law the digital evidences. Then analyze this case and decide what the truth is.

“Journalists of the newspapers that added the ‘grave’ adjective in front of the ‘Sledgehammer coup plan’ headline and claimed that ‘They would bomb the mosques,’ come and see what’s being said at the court on the news you concocted. Just come.” 

(The letter continues with appeals in the same fashion to some other professions, including the military.)

Rear Adm. Turgay Erdağ, Hadımköy Military Prison