572 lawyers put behind bars on terror charges since 2016 coup attempt

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An inside view from the Turkey's biggest court house, Çağlayan. PHOTO: Hürriyet

According to Turkey’s Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) 572 attorneys have been put behind bars since a 2016 foiled coup attempt in Turkey, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

The majority of the attorneys were arrested on charges of terrorism due to links with the movement, according to the report.

ÇHD İstanbul branch chairman Gökmen Yeşil said the number was calculated by legal activists living abroad who follow trials in Turkey through their contacts and that even though bar associations have a legal obligation to monitor lawyers’ cases, they had not kept accurate records.

Ankara Bar Association Chairman Hakan Canduran said these lawyers were put under investigation in the first place because some of their clients were terror suspects.

“The people in charge believe that if you’re defending a FETÖ suspect, then you’re a FETÖ member, and that if you’re defending a DHKP-C suspect, then you too are a member of the DHKP-C,” Canduran said.

FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement, and DHKP-C is the acronym for the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, a leftist terrorist group.

Canduran also pointed out that during a two-year state of emergency that was lifted in July, the government issued dozens of decrees to prevent attorneys from defending clients who were charged with terrorism.

According to the decrees, for terror suspects, meetings with attorneys must be recorded by prison management and a prison official must be present in the room.

DW report also said arrested lawyers stated they were subjected to ill treatment and torture during detention.

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