A Turkish lieutenant colonel who had been assigned to NATO headquarters and who was abducted and tortured by agents of the Turkish intelligence service continued to relate the horrific details of the torture in an additional petition filed with Turkish authorities.
Earlier Nordic Monitor had documented that Lt. Col. Ersoy Öz was subjected to torture by operatives of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) for days. Lt. Col. Öz, who had worked as an intelligence planning officer at NATO military headquarters between 2010 and 2013 and had pursued graduate studies in California from 2002 to 2004, was kidnapped by MIT agents and subjected to severe torture after a July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey according to his newly discovered petition in which he repeated his request for a through medical examination of the marks of torture still visible on his body a year after the fact.
He was appointed to head the Turkish brigade deployed to Qatar on May 13, 2016. After the coup attempt, he was abducted by MIT agents near an airbase in Ankara in July 2016 and brought to a black site in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district run by MIT and subjected to severe torture there.
With a petition addressed to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office from the Sincan maximum security prison outside Ankara, where he has been incarcerated ever since, Öz repeated his request for a medical examination of the marks of torture. Early in the morning of July 16, he was kidnapped by persons who said they were government officials and taken to a soundproof room at an unknown location to be severely tortured there.
“My various body parts including my genitals were subjected to electric shock. I was beaten and my face was covered by wet towels and cloths to such an extent that I was unable to breathe. Some 150 marks of injuries/burns caused by the torture are still visible on various parts of my body. In those parts subjected to electric shock I still suffer from muscle pains and a loss of sensation. As a result of beatings, I am suffering from an inguinal hernia for which I will have surgery at Ankara Numune Hospital. Further, there are still lingering pains in my spine, penis and urinary tract and other body parts where I was beaten,” he said in his petition.
His previous petitions were left unanswered by the authorities. Noting that no official action had been taken on his previous two previous petitions in 2016 wherein he conveyed his request to testify again because he had given his statement under duress during his interrogation in police custody, he repeated his request for a through medical examination of the traces of torture.
“My lawyer, Hasan Egemen Mağat, filed two separate petitions dated September 23, 2016 and October 18, 2016, respectively, with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office with a view to establishing the torture. Yet, no action has been taken. … Therefore … I kindly request to be medically examined so that the still visible marks [of torture] and damage to my body be established with a medical report,” he wrote. This petition also proved to have been of no avail.
Lt. Col. Ersoy Öz’s petition filed with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office:
In his petition dated October 18, 2016 and filed by his lawyer with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Öz claimed the torture in the unofficial location continued for three days, between July 16-18, 2016.
The petition noted that Öz was detained on July 16 by people claiming to be police officers who put a hood on his head. He was taken to an unknown location where he was interrogated. The kidnappers handed him over to the Kazan chief of police, who Öz identified only by his first name, Murat. He was later taken to the Ankara Police Department and sent to the Sincan maximum security prison outside Ankara on July 19 upon decision No. 2016/425 of the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace.
The lawyer said the people who tortured his client later claimed to be from the General Staff intelligence section but said his client suspected them to be members of MIT. In his own petition Lt. Col. Öz also underlined that he recognized the kidnappers as MIT agents from the way they spoke and ruled out the claim that they were working for the General Staff.
What is more, his lawyer underlined that he himself had seen traces on Öz’s body that were consistent with having been subjected to torture. The marks of torture were visible on the colonel’s shoulders, back, legs and genitals. In the complaint Mağat said the evidence of torture was still visible on his client’s body, three months after the fact, and lamented that no thorough medical examination had been conducted to investigate the claims, asking the prosecutor to look into the allegations.
Despite the fact that Öz exhibited extensive evidence of injuries sustained in the detention center and at the Ankara Police Department, doctors were intimidated into not including the indications of torture in his medical check-ups.
Forty-two-year old Öz had attended an orientation course in Ankara before assuming his duties in Qatar. He paid a visit to the General Staff on the afternoon of July 15, 2016 to complete final procedures for his departure and to brief his successor, Maj. Atamer Erkal, on the task he was about to assume.
Not knowing that in the late evening a coup attempt would take place, Öz arrived there in his personal car, was dressed in civilian clothes and was not even carrying a firearm. During the course of the day, a staff colonel, Doğan Öztürk, demanded that he remain at headquarters with a view to protecting the building against a terror attack, saying the General Staff had received credible intelligence that prompted emergency precautionary measures. CCTV footage shows him in and out of the building, helping secure the premises when a mob tried to storm the headquarters. He took no putschist action.
All commanders were picked up from headquarters and taken to Akıncı Airbase in Ankara. Öz was ordered to accompany them. Yet, sensing that things were not quite right there, he fled the base, only to be abducted shortly thereafter by MIT agents. In a handwritten petition filed with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2017, he exposed the terrible torture he had undergone at the hands of the MIT agents. Handcuffed and blindfolded, he was taken to a soundproof room in an unknown location where he was severely beaten and subjected to electric shock during interrogation.
Cover letter from the prison administration that was attached to Öz’s petititon:cover_letter_ersoy_öz
In this petition Öz claimed that after the interrogation by Turkish intelligence, he was first handed over to the police in Ankara’s Kazan district and then transferred to the police station in Yenimahalle. Öz’s ordeal did not end there. Beaten with rifle butts, verbally abused and threatened, he was forced to give a statement under duress during the interrogation in police custody. He was not allowed to read his statement, to which the police added some claims he never made.
He has never gotten a response to his repeated requests to provide new testimony, nor was any investigation into his torture allegations conducted.
Torture and other inhumane treatment have become part of domestic policy in Turkey under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This practice peaked in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt, which was used by the Erdoğan government as a pretext for cracking down on dissidents. Despite the repeated calls of relevant international organizations including the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU and various NGOs, Turkish authorities have continued to this day to turn a deaf ear to combatting torture and to punishing torturers in defiance of its international obligations. Conversely, in decree-laws enacted during the ensuing two-year state of emergency, the government provided legal protection to torturers, thus encouraging torture and and allowing the torturers to act with impunity.