Great relief for Fabien Azoulay and his family, after four years of difficult detention in Turkey. The 43-year-old Franco-American, sentenced to sixteen years in prison by Turkish justice for possession of narcotics, was to be transferred on Tuesday August 17 to France to finish serving his sentence there, his lawyers announced.
His lawyers, Mes Carole-Olivia Montenot and François Zimeray, welcomed in a press release “The culmination of a long struggle, in which the mobilization of public opinion was decisive”.
During a short trip to Istanbul in 2017 to use hair implants, Fabien Azoulay, now 43, was arrested for having bought a vial of GBL on the Internet. GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) is a paint solvent which, when ingested, turns into GHB, a substance long known as the “rapist’s drug”, more and more often consumed recreationally.
According to his lawyers, he did not know that this product had been banned in Turkey six months earlier and had been delivered “In good faith”. The Frenchman, also of American nationality, had been sentenced to twenty years in prison for “Importation of narcotics”, a sentence then reduced to sixteen years and eight months on appeal.
In April, Mes Montenot and Zimeray had raised for the first time publicly the case of their client, assuring that he had been “Victim of aggravated violence committed by a fellow prisoner”, who had inflicted on him in 2018 “Burns due to his homosexuality and his belonging to the Jewish religion”. “He suffered intimidation, his fellow prisoners summoned him to convert to Islam and to say five prayers a day”, added Me Montenot.
“I don’t see myself staying here for sixteen years and eight months”
“I pray and cry every day for a miracle to happen. I don’t see myself staying here for sixteen years and eight months ”, had written the prisoner in letters sent to his family from Giresun prison in northeastern Turkey, according to France 24. “There are so many of us. At night, to go to the toilet, you have to trample on those who are sleeping. When they are woken up, they have fits and only know how to respond with violence ”, he also said.
A petition, launched four months ago by its support committee, addressed to the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, had collected 120,178 signatures. In mid-June, during the NATO summit in Brussels, Emmanuel Macron had mentioned the case of Mr. Azoulay with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, assuring at the time that “The conditions for a rapid transfer before[çai]ent “.
French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune greeted on Tuesday “Beautiful news, great relief, the culmination of a collective and fair mobilization”.
“As soon as he arrives on French territory, we will seize the competent court with a view to the forthcoming release of Fabien Azoulay”, announced the lawyers, who intend to file a request to adapt his sentence and reduce it to five years in prison, as provided for in the French penal code for this offense.
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