Statement on the arrest of Gülhan Kaya and the arrest warrants against Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş and Kader Tunҁ
19 juni 2023

Statement on the arrest of Gülhan Kaya and the arrest warrants against Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş and Kader Tunҁ

Türkiye

Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the arrest of lawyers Gülhan Kaya on 10 June 2023 in Izmir. We are also concerned about the arrest warrants that have been issued against Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş and Kader Tunҁ.

Picture by Bianca Sistermans

Gülhan Kaya, Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş and Kader Tunҁ all work or worked for law firm Ezilenlerin Hukuk Bürosu in Istanbul. Gülhan Kaya, Sezin Uҁar and Özlem Gümüstaş were arrested before, in 2017. At the time, they were accused of being a member of a terrorist organization and of terrorist propaganda.  Sezin Uҁar and Özlem Gümüstaş were in pre-trial detention from 19 October 2017 to 5 October 2018; Gülhan Kaya was under judicial control up until 29 November 2018. Lawyers for Lawyers observed several hearings in this case. The last hearing in this case, that is still continuing, was in the 27th High Criminal Court in Istanbul on 14 June 2023. The case has been postponed to 9 November 2023 because of the arrest of Gülhan Kaya and the start of the new criminal investigation against her, Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş, and Kader Tunc.

We have been informed that the new investigation is based on the statements of 5 witnesses. One of the witnesses states that Gülhan Kaya, Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş asked no payment for their legal services, although they did ask payment for legal services rendered to him. His statement was already included in the case file of the EHB-1 case from 2017. The statement of the other witnesses supposedly has the same essence. Also, the fact that the lawyers reminded their clients that they have the right to remain silent and several tweets, for example about other cases against lawyers, are the basis for the new investigation. Since the case file has not yet been given to the defense, other facts might emerge.

Kader Tunҁ went to the prosecutors’ office herself on 14 June 2023. She was detained, but was released the next day.

Gülhan Kaya is still in detention. Her case has been referred to the Istanbul Court.

The new criminal investigation, the arrest of Gülhan Kaya and the arrest warrants against Sezin Uҁar, Özlem Gümüstaş and Kader Tunҁ all seem linked to their legitimate work as lawyers, which is unlawful and in violation of article 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. This article stipulates that governments shall ensure that lawyers shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Since 2011, Türkiye has built an extremely long track record of accusing, prosecuting and convicting lawyers for involvement in terrorism for activities performed in their professional activities. This is very worrying and must stop.

In view of the above, Lawyers for Lawyers calls upon the authorities of Türkiye to:

  • Stop investigating and arresting lawyers for activities that are part of their legitimate work as lawyers;
  • End repression and persecution of lawyers in Türkiye, and to release all lawyers in arbitrary detention, including Gülhan Kaya;
  • Ensure that lawyers can perform their legitimate activities as lawyers freely and independently, in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

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