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500 lawyers mark Day of the Lawyer behind bars in Turkey

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Every April 5 is marked as the Day of the Lawyer in Turkey, and this year 500 lawyers celebrated it in Turkish prisons, according to data from the Turkish Bar Association (TBB).

The number of arrested lawyers in 2017 was 390, rising to 500 with the addition of new arrests.

Executive board member of the İstanbul Bar Association Hasan Kılıç, who spoke on the occasion of the Day of the Lawyer, said lawyers are subjected to investigations, detained or jailed for performing their job as lawyers.

Kılıç said it is hard to celebrate the Day of the Lawyer when so many lawyers are in jail.

Particularly after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, dozens of lawyers were arrested simply because their clients were people who had links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the putsch.

The lawyers representing a group of police officers who uncovered government corruption in late 2013 have also been jailed solely because of the identity of their clients.

In addition to the risk of arrest, lawyers also face many obstacles in seeing their jailed clients. Most of the time, they cannot have access to their clients for a long period after their detention due to an ongoing state of emergency in the country, which was declared in the aftermath of the coup attempt and is still in effect.

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