Where Is Huseyin Galip Kucukozyigit? The Story of a Missing Official in Turkey

Turkey’s season of mysterious disappearances is back after a purged public worker went missing in Ankara.

Abdullah Ayasun

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An archive photo shows former legal advisor Huseyin Galip Kucukozyigit shakes hands with former President Abdullah Gul in the early 2010s.

On Feb. 17, Huseyin Galip Kucukozyigit, a high-profile former public official who previously worked as a legal advisor in the now-defunct Public Ministry, turned 48. This past Wednesday was his birthday. But there was little motivation for a celebration among his family members. It has been more than 50 days since he mysteriously disappeared without leaving a trace behind, plunging his family into a desperate search for his whereabouts amid renewed fears about his wellbeing.

On Dec. 29, Kucukozyigit left his office in the Maltepe district of Ankara on a cold December day. Purged by an emergency decree during the post-coup crackdown after 2016, he somehow was lucky to land a job to offer his legal expertise at a private company. The last time he communicated with his family was that Tuesday when he notified that he could visit the family residing in the western province of Kocaeli (a three-hour drive from Ankara) after his work was over. Since Dec. 29, his family did not get a word from him. Since that day, the officials have offered no explanation about the bizarre incident.

The family wasted little time in pursuing the matter. They went to Kocaeli Bekirpasa Police Station on December 31. They submitted a request for information on CIMER, the national database for inquiry, the next day, on the first day of the new year. As their efforts yielded no result, they only intensified the process by going to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Jan. 5. This followed by other steps such as lodging a petition to the United Nations on Jan. 12, submitting a file to the Constitutional Court in Ankara on Jan. 22. None of these steps have produced a satisfying result, or even an answer, to this day.

The moment the police began to shirk the questions, the family started its own investigation and reached the camera records of Kucukozyigit’s workplace with their own means. According to their accord, the legal advisor was followed by three unidentified people while entering the office as the camera footage revealed. The family submitted camera footage…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun