Turkish hotel owner detained in Cuba, family calls for release
A man who owns a hotel adorned with items inspired by the Cuban culture in Turkey’s southwest was detained in Cuba on April 18. His family is now calling on Cuban authorities to release him, saying his detention is unjust.
“[Oktay Başyurt] has worked his whole life as a voluntary honorary ambassador between Cuba and Turkey,” Başyurt’s friend and tourism server said in a presser on July 5 in the tourism hub of Bodrum located on the Aegean province of Muğla’s coastal line.
“But he was detained in Cuba, where he has gone frequently for the past 20 years, over unjust charges and upon no evidence,” he said.
Calling for Başyurt’s release after three months under detention, his friend said they have also not been able to clearly communicate with the Turkish hotel owner while under detention in the southern province of Cienfuegos.
“As we have not been able to receive sufficient information from Oktay, we are also now worried about his wellbeing. Despite all our efforts, we have not been able to get results. At this point, we want the government to hear us. Please hear our call.”
The crowd, which included Başyurt’s family, friends and even guests of the hotel, held banners reading: “We, too, are imprisoned as Oktay is.”
Another banner read: “We trust the Cuban justice system.”
His loved ones do not know why Başyurt was detained and said that he was held without any crimes committed.
“It is tough for an innocent person to prove his innocence in a foreign country. We do not understand the stance of Cuba, which has a presence in the international arena,” they said.
“Oktay, who has been a friend of Cuba by all means, has always said that Cuba is a great country and that he was very happy to help the people,” his loved ones added.
His mother was also there, calling for the release of his son.
“Oktay went for a vacation and was arrested. He would have died for Cuba, yet he was rounded up there,” she said.