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TURKEY: Lawyer Can Atalay risks lifelong imprisonment + 2.970 years


Can Atalay is a Turkish lawyer and human rights defender. He is a member of the Taksim Solidarity group. He defended many political prisoners, journalists, “academics for peace”, and victims of the Soma mining catastrophe (May 2014).

Can Atalay was arrested several times in relation to the Gezi Park protests (2013) and other protests against development projects. He will be judged on June 24th and 25th, 2019, in Silivri.

Can Atalay notably represented the Architect’s Association, which was contesting the transformation of the Taksim square. He launched many requests and appeals against the Istanbul prefecture and the Turkish State.

He will be judged about the “Gezi events”, along with Osman Kavala (who has been incarcerated for 16 months) and 15 other personalities from the civil society. They are all accused of having tried to “overthrow the government” during the 2013 protests.


Can Atalay had been tried for the same facts in 2013 and had been acquitted. In this case, the prosecutor took the same facts and re-qualified them. The charges against Can Atalay amount to life imprisonment plus a total of 2970 years of imprisonment. This extreme severity is due to the fact that all the members of the 2013 government joined a civil action to the case.

Until March 5th, 2019, Can Atalay did not know on which ground he was prosecuted.

The OIAD firmly condemns the intimidation of Can Atalay and the prosecutions launched against him.

The OIAD urges Turkish authorities to drop the charges against Can Atalay immediately, and to release all the lawyers who are unduly prosecuted and imprisoned in Turkey for having legitimately exercised their profession.

The OIAD calls on all lawyers around the world, Bar associations and other associations committed to the defense of the profession, to express their solidarity with Can Atalay and the Turkish lawyers.

Turkish authrotities are expected to comply with the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, according to which “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics” (Principle n° 16).


Who are we?

The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger was created by the National Bar Council (France),  the  Paris  Bar  (France),  the  Consejo  General  de  la  Abogacía  Espanola  (Spain),  and the Consiglio  Nazionale  Forense  (Italy).  Its  goal  is  to  conduct  a  constant  monitoring  on lawyers  facing  threats  around  the  world  because  they lawfully practice their  profession  and to  provide assistance to attorneys whose lives, freedom or practice are threatened.