Antonín Mokrý, president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers, on Friday sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urging that he ensure the immediate release and access to medical treatment of Turkish lawyer Mustafa Aydın, who has been in pretrial detention since August 2016 and was diagnosed with prostate cancer and a hernia.
Mokrý said in his letter that “the CCBE respectfully urges your Excellency to ensure that Mustafa Aydin is released immediately and that he receives necessary medical treatment as it is believed that his arrest is solely motivated by his activity as a lawyer. In addition, the CCBE asks you to take all the necessary measures to guarantee that all lawyers in Turkey are able to perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation or harassment, in order to preserve the independence and integrity of the administration of justice.”
Aydın has been detained since August 16, 2016, and over a year later was charged under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. His trial is not scheduled to start until June.
“We understand that Mustafa Aydin has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and a hernia, resulting in him being unable to walk however, he has not received timely or sufficient medical care. He needs medical care, cancer treatment and surgery for the hernia urgently. Furthermore, Mustafa Aydin has a 10-year-old son, with Down syndrome, who is dependent on the emotional support of his father,” said the CCBE letter, which also referred Erdoğan to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular Principles 16 and 17 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers.
The Turkish government has prosecuted 1,539 lawyers, arrested 580 and sentenced 103 lawyers to long prison terms since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to a report released by The Arrested Lawyers Initiative late March 2018.
Particularly after the failed coup attempt, 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.