A Turkish lawyer is facing charges of terrorism over meetings with her clients behind bars, and reminding other clients of their rights under custody, Mezopotamya Agency reported.
Lawyer Sezin Uçar was detained for two days last week, alongside fellow lawyer and Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Co-chair Özlem Gümüştaş.
Both lawyers were asked why they counselled their clients. “For instance, reminding somebody of their right to remain silent. As lawyers, our job is to seek the legal interest of our clients. Naturally, we may advise clients to exercise their right to remain silent under torture,” Uçar said.
“How many times we visited our clients in prison, whether we took plane rides with persons with criminal records, or staying in the same hotel with such persons… These are not things that could be made subject of an investigation, but they were,” she continued. “We are lawyers. Obviously, there is nothing more natural than us meeting with persons under investigation or facing trial.”
Uçar works mainly in political and union cases, which she believes is “disturbing” to the Turkish government. “They would like to torture with ease. They want to have nobody stand up for people arrested during demonstrations, that no lawyer take their cases, that no prisoners receive visitors,” she continued.
Another reason for their targeting is their campaign efforts for the release from prison of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founding leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been serving a life sentence since his capture and trial in 1999.
Attacks against lawyers target the profession itself, Uçar added, accusing the Istanbul Bar Association of turning a blind eye. “Their practice to date has been very weak,” she said. “The bar’s indifference certainly plays a role in our professional activity being considered criminal.”
Uçar told reporters that they were subjected to torture and mistreatment in gendarmerie custody when they refused to provide blood samples.
“They put our arms behind our backs and took hair samples by force and torture,” Uçar said. Both lawyers are pressing charges.