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Turkish regime's arrest of lawyers draws international criticism

Turkish and international lawyers’ groups have voiced concern over the arrest of dozens of lawyers, saying they had been doing their job when representing clients accused of links to the network Turkey blames for an attempted coup in 2016.

The Ankara state prosecutor’s office ordered the detention of 60 people on Friday, including 48 lawyers and others in the legal sector, suspected of operating in support of the network of Fethullah Gulen.

The suspects were part of a structure within the Gulenist network which sought to “steer investigations in favour of the group under the guise of attorney activities”, the prosecutor’s office said.

The Istanbul Bar Association described the arrests as intimidation. In a statement released on Monday, it said the allegations related to the execution of their duties as lawyers, representing clients accused of Gulen links.

“A lawyer cannot be identified with their client,” the association said. “Intimidation which hopes to restrict the lawyers’ duty ... will impact the public as much as lawyers and gradually destroy confidence in justice.”

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) also expressed concern, saying the arrests breached Turkey’s obligations under international law.

“Lawyers should never be arrested or sanctioned for representing their clients, or identified with their clients causes,” said Roisin Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

Source: Reuters

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