Family anxious ahead of Calgary imam’s appearance in Turkish court

Jailed Calgary imam due in Turkish court

CALGARY — A Calgary imam who has spent more than seven months in a Turkish prison has a court date scheduled for today, his family says.

Davud Hanci is expected to appear before a judge by video conference on allegations he helped orchestrate last summer’s attempted coup.

His wife, Rumeysa Hanci, said Tuesday she was expecting a sleepless night.

“I feel so extremely overwhelmed. It’s really difficult to fight,” she said after ushering the couple’s two young sons out of the room so they wouldn’t be upset by her talking about their father.

“My mind is so full of everything.”

A court date had been scheduled for Jan. 31 but was postponed because of lack of evidence, said Rumeysa, who is staying with her parents in Toronto.

“My hope is of course he’s released,” she said.

“If it was a fair trial, I would expect him definitely to be released. But in this case, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

She said her husband is being kept in solitary confinement and has not been allowed visits or phone calls with family, but he has been able to see his lawyer face-to-face.

“She says he’s trying to be strong,” said Rumeysa.

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

Shortly after, he was moved to a prison nearly 1,000 kilometres away in the province of Kocaeli east of Istanbul.  

“The accusations are so ridiculous,” said Rumeysa. “I want Canadians to know a good man is staying there without any evidence.”

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.

Michael O’Shaughnessy of Global Affairs Canada called the case a priority, though he said privacy considerations prohibit him from discussing it in detail.

“We are actively engaged on this case, and doing everything we can to support the family,” he said. “Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra has met with the individual’s family, and consular officials remain in regular contact.”

Rumeysa described her husband as a peaceful and gentle man. His job involves providing spiritual counselling to prison inmates across Alberta.

She said the ordeal has been tough on their sons.

“They need him so much. So they keep asking questions like when he will be home,” she said.

“The boys are apart from their father and it’s hard to find answers to their questions anymore.”

She said she’s hoping for some good news on Wednesday.

“I want this torture to end as soon as possible,” she said. “I want him back home. I want him seeing my boys growing and taking care of them.”


Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

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