The data was made public when Bekir Bozdag, the Turkish justice minister, was asked in Turkey's parliament the number of ISIS convicts in Turkish jails.
One of the many ISIS members in Turkey that has been released by Turkish courts is Abdulsamet C., arrested on September 2 of last year on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization.
Abdulsamet C. confessed that he had travelled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014. He added that an Azeri man with the code name "Ammar", who did ISIS propaganda in a mosque in Istanbul, provided him with the contact information that enabled him to go to the Turkish city of Gaziantep through which he entered Syria where he joined ISIS.
C. said that he went to the Syrian city of Jarabulus with a group of people, received religious education in the city of Manbij for a month, and then went to Iraq and Syria before returning to Turkey in July, 2015.
Seeking to benefit from the Active Repentance Law, he was released by a Turkish court on judicial probation. Yet he continued to be in contact with ISIS even after returning to the Umraniye neighborhood in Istanbul where his family resides.
An indictment drafted for Abdulsamet C. by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office includes evidence showing his connections with ISIS such as banners, photographs, videos and anthems. During a raid on Abdulsamet C.'s house, police also found a book entitled, "44 Ways of Supporting Jihad," which is banned in Turkey.
Despite all the evidence at hand, Abdulsamet C. has been released by an Istanbul court on judicial probation on the grounds that he has a permanent residence address in Istanbul. The newspaper Hurriyet contacted the lawyer of the ISIS member, who said he was surprised at the release of his client.
However, Turkish courts have arrested several pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies and politicians as well as Kurdish mayors from the Democratic Regions' Party (DBP). The total number of HDP deputies under arrest is 12. Trustees have been appointed by the government to replace the arrested mayors in the country's predominantly Kurdish southeast.
According to a recent public statement by the HDP, 1478 Kurdish politicians – including 78 democratically-elected co-mayors – have been arrested since July, 2016.
The co-heads of the HDP party, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksektas, are also in jail. Prosecutors seek up to 142 years in jail for Demirtas and up to 83 years in jail for Yuksekdag. One of the charges directed to Demirtas is "managing a terrorist organization."
Journalists critical of the government are also under various pressures in Turkey. According to a recent report by Turkey's Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), 151 individuals are in prison for being journalists or for being employed in the news media. Dozens of TV stations, news agencies, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations have also been closed down by the Turkish government. The Kurdish media is particularly under attack. Many of the arrested journalists work for the pro-Kurdish media.
In the meantime, an Islamic State (ISIS) member who appeared in an ISIS propaganda video threatening Turkey has previously been detained twice in Turkey and released.
According to Hurriyet, the recently identified militant, Hasan Aydin, was detained in 2012 in an operation targeting al-Qaeda in the southern province of Adana but later released; and again detained in 2015 while attempting to cross into Syria.
Military equipment and a drone were found in the minibus Aydın was using and he was referred to the court. He was later released on condition of judicial control.
Moreover, according to the Kurdish politician, Ayhan Bilgen. the movement of Islamist terrorists from Syria to Turkey has been escalating recently,
During the opening speech of the party assembly at the HDP headquarters in Ankara on January 22, Bilgen, an HDP MP and spokesperson, said that members of ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Free Syrian Army, which have roots in al Qaeda, have been moving in large numbers from Syria to Turkey.
"This is loud and clear. A market has been formed in Ankara. There are regular trips between Raqqa [the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS] and ASTI [Ankara's main bus terminal] for 1,250 dollars per passenger. Everybody knows the transportation [of militants between Turkey and Syria] is intense. What are the security and intelligence units in Turkey doing in the face of that? Who took these people there and are they being brought back? And what is expected from bringing back groups such as ISIS and al-Nursa?"Bilgen was arrested on "terror charges" on January 31.
In Turkey, it seems, ISIS members are freer than journalists and peaceful, democratically-elected Kurdish politicians.