A Turkish public prosecutor wants a Turkish lawyer who worked for the German Embassy in Ankara to be jailed for 20,973 years over charges of espionage, T24 news portal reported on Thursday.
Yilmaz S. was arrested on September 17 last year while he was dealing with the cases of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany on behalf of the embassy in Ankara.
As part of the embassy work, the lawyer was trying to get information from the Turkish prosecutors and police about asylum seekers.
In his indictment submitted to the Ankara 13th Heavy Penal Court, the Prosecutor Mehmet Ilhan Komurcugil accused the lawyer of espionage, illegal acquisition of private personal data and violation of the confidentiality of the investigation.
Four more suspects, two lawyers, a debt enforcement officer and a court clerk have also been tried in the same case.
One of the lawyers is reportedly the attorney of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher who has been accused by Ankara of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Previously the court remanded the indictment to the prosecutor on the grounds that there must be official permission from the Turkish ministry of justice for the investigation.
It said this was because the alleged offenses were related to the legal profession, according to Turkish law.
“I appreciate the court’s [previous] remand order in such a time [in Turkey] where lawlessness has become common practice,” Yilmaz S’s lawyer Levent Kanat told Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish last week.
Yilmaz S.’s arrest sparked outrage in many circles, as well as Germany, at the time.
The German authorities believe that more than 250 other files including pending asylum claims of Kurdish activists and Gulen movement members are now in the hands of the Turkish intelligence service (MIT).
The authorities seized them in a police search of the lawyer’s offices during the detention.
Following the detention and capture of the documents, Germany’s Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had reportedly warned some 200 asylum-seekers that the data could lead to probes by Turkey’s MIT.
Germany, hosting the biggest number of asylum seekers in Europe saw some 9,500 protection applications from Turkey between January and October last year, 8% higher than the number for the same period in 2018, according to official statements.
The increase is a result of Turkey’s crackdown on dissidents including the Kurds and Gulen followers since the failed coup.
Since the coup bid, the Erdogan government has carried out a mass crackdown with more than 500,000 people being detained and hundreds of thousands of public workers being fired or suspended.