Turkish Canadian imam Davud Hanci in solitary, says wife

Hanci was arrested in July shortly after a failed coup attempt in Turkey

CALGARY — The wife of a Calgary imam says he is being held in solitary confinement in Turkey and worrying about his well-being has been torture.

Davud Hanci, who has Canadian and Turkish citizenship, was arrested in July shortly after a failed coup attempt.

Rumeysa Hanci says she has not been able to speak to her husband since he was allowed a phone call shortly after he was detained.

“I just want him to be safe there and to come home as soon as possible,” she said from Toronto, where she is staying with family.

“I love him so much and I miss him so much.”

She said Canadian government officials have not been able to see him.

Global Affairs spokesman Austin Jean said the government is working on the case.

“Canadian consular officials in Turkey have been in contact with local authorities since the beginning and are in regular contact with the Canadian citizen’s family to provide consular assistance,” he said in an email.

“We will continue to raise this case directly with the Turkish government.”

Due to privacy considerations, the department will not be releasing further details, Jean said.

Another Turkish Canadian, Ilhan Erdem, was arrested at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport following the attempted coup.

Rumeysa Hanci said her husband has only been able to see his lawyer twice. The lawyer told her Turkish officials recorded their meetings and would not let them speak privately.

“Thank God they don’t torture him physically, but they are torturing him psychologically,” she said.

“Not only him — they are torturing us.”

“They are torturing my kids, me and his family in Turkey. Everyone is so worried about him.”

She said the couple and their two sons, who are eight and nine, were in Turkey during the summer visiting the imam’s ailing father in Trabzon on the coast of the Black Sea.

Hanci has since been moved to a prison nearly 1,000 kilometres away in the province of Kocaeli east of Istanbul.

At the time of his arrest, she said authorities did not explain why they imprisoned him.

Turkish news reports have accused Davud Hanci of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt.

Gulen, a former ally-turned-critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has denied any involvement.

Turkey has arrested tens of thousands in its investigation into the failed coup, and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 people from government jobs for their links to Gulen.

Rumeysa Hanci said her husband is peaceful and gentle, and had nothing to do with the coup. His work involves providing spiritual guidance to prison inmates across Alberta.

“My husband doesn’t deserve this situation. He’s a very good man.”

—with files from The Associated Press

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.