Number of lawyers behind bars increases to 410 as 3 more arrested over alleged Gülen links

Arrest of 3 more lawyers by Turkish government over alleged Gülen links in Kayseri on Monday has increased the number of lawyers in jail since failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 to 410, according to the figures of Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative.

Lawyers Funda Aydın, Bekir S.Ç. and Ali Osman T. were arrested in the central province of Kayseri on Monday. It is learned that lawyer brother of Funda Aydın was also arrested previously.  Turkish government had arrested 30 lawyers over alleged Gülen links on April 5 which is celebrated as Lawyers Day in Turkey. A lawyer representing Meral Akşener, a politician who was expelled from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) due to her bid to oust the incumbent chairman, was also among those arrested lawyers.

Turkish authorities have issued sweeping arrest warrants against more than 1000 lawyers within last seven months on what is believed to be a part of crackdown on critics and opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. So far 410 lawyers including prominent criminal law attorneys and heads of provincial Bar Associations were formally arrested while many were forced to self-exile to avoid torture and ill treatment in jails. The government also purged 108 academics including famous law professors from law schools of public universities and fired 108 government lawyers en masse.

What is more, the authorities also ordered the seizure of all assets of lawyers who faced an arrest although they were not convicted of any crime and there was no indictment filed and no trial hearing held yet. The seizure of assets has deprived family members of their livelihood while lawyers are left languishing behind bars in long pre-trial detentions.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

April 11, 2017

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