28 November 2019 10:31

Germany's spy(!) detained in Ankara

A lawyer working for German Embassy has been detained in Ankara. We have yet another fresh crisis with Germany and the EU. And one more legally unfounded case that will pass into history.

Photographs: Pixabay

Kamil Tekin SUREK

A lawyer has been detained in Ankara. The crony press alleges that the lawyer was spying for Germany. It has become judicial practice of recent years, with a case subject to a confidentiality order and the suspect’s lawyers unable to obtain information about the case, for the crony-press to impart information of uncertain veracity about the case. Perception management via the crony press prior to the indictment and then detention.

From the scribblings of the crony press, the lawyer was spying for Germany! As to proof of spying, this amounts to the claim that the lawyer examined the files of certain penal cases and imparted information about the trials to German official authorities (and indeed to certain other EU countries). For their part, German officials say that such an allegation is nonsense and it is odd for work conducted fully within the scope of a lawyer’s authority under Turkish legislation to be described as spying. From what they say, each year thousands of Republic of Turkey citizens apply for political asylum in countries like Germany, France and Switzerland. And they make various claims about suffering oppression for political reasons. They speak of such things as having been prosecuted or tortured in Turkey. Documents are submitted in relation to these claims. Some of these claims are true, but some are false. Potential economic migrants also pass themselves off as political refugees. There are thousands of examples of false applications.

Examples inviting such great curiosity were mentioned when I spoke to lawyer friends the other day that they cannot help eliciting great astonishment. Somebody from Adana presented himself as being a PKK supporter and told of a trial pending against him in Adana, of having suffered torture and how he would be tortured again and so on if extradited. On examination, it emerged that this person was a police officer, he had been prosecuted and sentenced for torturing somebody who had alleged PKK ties and this is why he had fled and he had made these claims to secure acceptance of his asylum application.

An asylum tactic of recent years has been to post material insulting the president or ministers on social media accounts and getting a close associate to report it and, once prosecution starts, going to one of the EU countries and claiming asylum. With a great number of false applications manifesting themselves, Germany et alia have resorted to getting the case files of applicants who attract suspicion vetted by lawyers in Turkey.

A lawyer may examine any penal case file for a client of theirs and may give their client information about the file. If this procedure is to be classified as spying, a lawyer cannot do their job. The right of defence perishes. There may in fact be confidentiality orders over such cases as child abuse and hearings in such cases may be held in camera. Apart from such exceptions, hearings in all cases are open to the public. The files may also be examined. Accessing information in files and conveying it to somebody is not spying. Certain parties are also trying to water down the claims of spying and attach an air of greater legalism to the affair by speaking of the likes of “obtaining and disclosing personal data.” This claim will not hold water, either. If such claims were true, the biggest spies or disclosers of personal data would be the crony media. So as to manage perception, it has for years gone public with information in thousands of files before indictments have been drafted, with the accused and their lawyers yet to have sight of the file.

These kinds of espionage allegations have become fashionable in recent years. German journalist Deniz Yücel, journalist Can Dündar, member of parliament Enis Berberoğlu, the US priest and others were tried on such flimsy spying charges and these cases gave rise to international scandals. They all had to be dropped. The charges were amended and so on. This situation shows how meritless and legally unfounded the cases brought in recent years on espionage charges have been. Knowing what everyone knows is not spying. Nowadays, with the US and many large states able to access virtually all information by means of satellites, the internet and bugging equipment and with ninety per cent of news gathering activity being sourced from the public domain, espionage affairs like Cicero are not likely to emerge any more.

Essentially, the last piece of information relating to the affair will take the form of details of whose asylum application and address those who arrested the lawyer and searched his office so as to find out information in the lawyer’s files wished to glean.

Whatever. We have yet another fresh crisis with Germany and the EU. And one more legally unfounded case that will pass into history.

(Translated by Tim DRAYTON)