The Turkish government secretly investigated family members of lawyers perceived to be critical of it, including their spouses and children, Nordic Monitor revealed on Tuesday.
According to documents reviewed by Nordic Monitor, the Turkish government investigated family members of 28 lawyers, including prominent attorneys who have been jailed or forced to live in exile.
The documents show that spouses and children including underage youngsters were investigated by the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), an executive organ attached to the Finance and Treasury Ministry, which is led by Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law.
The investigation documents were found in docket No. 2017/134 of the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court, which is hearing the trials of dozens of jailed lawyers.
The report lists 83 people, indicating that some of the lawyers have more than one child and that all of them were listed as suspected criminals in a prosecution against lawyers and rights defenders.
The lawyers’ underage children were also the subjects of this secret investigation.
The Turkish government started systematically investigating lawyers long before a failed coup in 2016, arresting them and putting them in pre-trial detention in large numbers to deny many defendants access to lawyers.
Lawyers were targeted because they represented critics and opponents of the government in legal cases and defended their rights in the courtroom.
Today, lawyers themselves have difficulty finding and hiring lawyers, many of whom are afraid of being detained due to their clients.
In a number of instances, court-appointed lawyers have filed motions to withdraw from cases that may put them in the crosshairs of the government.
According to figures from The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 581 lawyers have been arrested, 1,542 prosecuted and 168 lawyers convicted in Turkey since 2016.