Turkey, the lawyer on hunger strike returns free

The Turkish Court of Cassation ordered the immediate release for health reasons of the lawyer Aytac Unsal, who has been on hunger strike for 213 days to protest against his sentence of 10 and a half years for “terrorist association”, to one week from her colleague’s death in prison Ebru Timtik after 238 days of fasting.

The judges ruled that Unsal should be “released immediately” in light of the “danger that being in prison poses to his life”. In recent days, doctors had raised the alarm on the deterioration of the general condition of the 32-year-old lawyer and on the weakening of his immune system in the face of the additional risk of a possible coronavirus infection. His release is expected to take place in the next few hours. The death of Ebru Timtik had aroused strong indignation and emotion in Turkey and abroad, with accusations against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having ignored to the extreme the demands of the peaceful protest of the lawyers, who denounced political condemnations and demanded a review of the their cases. Both had long been engaged in the defense of leftist activists and the judiciary accused them of supporting the Marxist-Leninist organization Dhkp-c, classified as “terrorist”. In July, Unsal and Timtik had been transferred to several hospitals, still in detention conditions. Today’s decision of the Supreme Court came in conjunction with the visit to Turkey of the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Robert Spano, who also met with President Erdogan.

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“The release of lawyer Aytac Unsal is a victory for the mobilization of civil society that has not given up – said MEP Giuliano PIsapia, former defense lawyer of the Kurdish lader Abdullah Ocalan – who fought for him and for those who suffer under Erdogan’s regime. It is the victory of the lawyers, magistrates, university professors who demonstrated in Turkey and Europe to demand his release. The mobilization for the protection of human and civil rights in Turkey must not cease despite the deafening silence of various European countries “.


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Mario Calabresi
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