TURKEY: 7 people, including 4 lawyers, imprisoned in Istanbul after searching their offices
Following an operation carried out by the Anti-Terror Direction, seven people, including four lawyers (Ayşegül Çağatay, Nadide Özdemir, Görkem Ağdede and Ebru Timtik) were arrested in the early morning on June 20th, at the offices of the People’s Law Office (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu, HHB) and placed in police custody in Istanbul. The firm’s secretary (Gülser Sarıgül), a relative of one of the lawyers (Özhan Aslan), as well as a client (Kamile Kayır) are also in police custody.
The prosecutor has already decided to limit access to the file for the applicants and their lawyers, while many documents and computer tools have been seized on the premises of the HHB, which has been the subject of 4 searches in less than two years.
This search is part of a growing crackdown on lawyers in Turkey, including members of the HHB and/or the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD), who are regularly arrested and intimidated. On March 20th, the 37th Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Court sentenced 18 of these lawyers to heavy prison terms of up to 18 years for alleged membership of the Revolutionary Front Party for the Liberation of the People (DHKP-C), an organisation placed on the “terrorist” list of the Turkish Ministry of the Interior.
The OIAD expresses its deep concern and calls on all lawyers and bar associations to remain vigilant as to the fate of lawyers who are members of the HHB.
The OIAD expresses its full support for all lawyers in Turkey who are subjected to repression by the regime as a result of the legitimate exercise of their profession or their positions in the public debate.
The OIAD urges the Turkish authorities to comply with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), according to which the public authorities must ensure “that lawyers (…) are able to carry out all their professional duties without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference” (Principle No. 18).
The OIAD also reminds the Turkish authorities that any person arrested or detained must be “promptly informed by the competent authority of his right to be assisted by a lawyer of his choice” (Principle No. 5) and must be able to “communicate promptly with a lawyer” (Principle No. 7).
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.