The Istanbul Criminal Court sentenced Fabien Azoulay to 16 years and eight months in prison in 2017. His lawyers and relatives have been fighting ever since to have him repatriated to France. They have now decided now to publicise his case to put pressure on the French government.
“I pray and cry every day for a miracle. I can’t imagine staying here for the full 16 years and eight months,” Azoulay wrote in letters sent to his family from Giresun prison in northeast Turkey, and seen by FRANCE 24.
Already incarcerated for almost four years for “importing a banned narcotic product”, Azoulay, 43, has asked the French state to repatriate him so he can serve out the rest of his sentence in his own country.
Azoulay, who is gay and Jewish, says he is being harassed, mistreated and threatened on a daily basis.
Carole-Olivia Montenot, one of Azoulay’s lawyers, describes feeling a sense of impotence as she hears of the horrors experienced by her client. “It is terrible. He is being intimidated, his fellow inmates are telling him to convert to Islam and to pray five times a day. He is also being harassed because of his sexual orientation,” she told FRANCE 24.
“His conditions of detention are an attack on human dignity,” said Sophie Wiesenfeld, founder of the think-tank Hexagon Society and president of the Fabien Azoulay Support Committee.
“There are so many of us here living in such a small space. To go to the toilet at night, we have to walk on top of people who are sleeping. When they are woken up, they get angry and there are fights,” Azoulay wrote in a letter sent to a relative.
Read more: France24