French sources announced that during the NATO summit in Brussels, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron also touched upon the case of French Fabien Azoulay, who was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison by the Turkish judiciary in 2017 for drug possession. Emmanuel Macron asked his Turkish counterpart to "allow an expedited transfer" to France, regarding Azoulay, who was sentenced by the Turkish judiciary on charges of "trafficking and importing drugs" for purchasing a stimulant called GBL in Turkey.

#dokuz8/Dr. Selmin Seda Coşkun
According to French sources, “Conditions are improving for the speedy transfer of Fabien Azoulay to France, I hope we will be successful soon. This morning's discussion is already producing useful results,” French President Macron said. Former Ambassador of France to Denmark, François Zimeray, interpreted the meeting as "a pleasing prospect”. “We are in contact with the Turkish and French authorities for Fabien to return to France,” Zimeray said. He thanked the French president for addressing the issue. According to statements made by François Zimeray in April, “Fabien Azoulay made the purchase in good faith, during the day and without taking any precautions because he didn't have the slightest idea that he was doing something wrong. He ordered it on his behalf, paid with a credit card and had it delivered to his hotel room. When this product was delivered to him, the Turkish police arrested him and this was the beginning of the nightmare.” French authorities applied for transfer in 2019 in order to spend the remaining detention period of Fabien Azoulay within the scope of the “European Convention on the Transfer of Convicts” between France and Turkey, in France. However, there has been no response from the Turkish authorities to the application so far. Fabien Azoulay, 43, was arrested for purchasing a bottle of GBL, a stimulant substance, online, during a short trip to Istanbul in 2017 for a hair transplant.


French sources point out that the detention conditions of Fabien Azoulay, who is in Giresun prison, are not good, and that he can only receive calls from his relatives once a week. Relatives and family visits are not allowed, only consular visits are possible from time to time. Zimeray imagines Azoulay's conditions as a "true emotional desert”. As a matter of fact, Azoulay's lawyers state that his client's detention was even harsher because of his homosexual and Jewish identity. In the letters Fabien Azoulay sent to his relatives and read by his lawyers, daily life in Turkish prisons is strictly told. It is alleged that Azoulay spoke of other inmates who uses violence, some of whom were radicalized, and some of whom forced him to adopt Islam. Lawyers continue to convey the experiences of detainee Fabien Azoulay: “Four Syrians slit the throat of a man.” “…I was asleep when it happened, but the cries of the prisoners woke me up, seeing blood everywhere was scary, worse than a horror movie. Later, I learned that the deceased prisoner invested money in one of the Syrians and that he had to pay for his homosexuality with his life, in the name of Allah. Despite sleeping pills, I can no longer sleep. (…) I don't know, can you imagine my mood? But it is impossible to tear myself away from all this and to see beautiful things when faced with such horrors,” Fabien Azoulay said in a letter written to his friend Floriane in August 2018. Fabien Azoulay makes the following confession to his friend Arnaud a few months later: “I have been here for a year and a half, still can't mourn my freedom, I don't know if I will ever come back. This situation is eating me inside. I want to scream, but prison laws are so strict, they don't forgive the slightest mischief. I tried to fight, but all I got was ten slaps.” According to François Zimeray, the relationship of broken ties between France and Turkey also had an impact on Azoulay's fate. We could have saved this if the relations had been better. We should also consider the words of Turkish officials when the European Union said that they wanted to make an effort to improve relations with France” Zimeray said.