The lawyers of jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan have called upon the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), in order to be able to speak with Öcalan and to ensure that the virus does not spread to the island on which he is imprisoned.
Öcalan has been behind bars in a high-security facility on the Imralı island in the Marmara Sea to the south of Istanbul since 1999. The banned PKK has fought a war against the Turkish security forces for 40 years and is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
“Mr. Öcalan has developed problems in his left respiratory tract which have become chronic, he is continually dealing with problems inhaling and exhaling. He is not able to benefit from sufficient ventilation and sunlight in the cell in which he is staying. Based on the fact that he is 71 years old and has chronic problems with his respiratory tracts, this puts him in the highest risk group for Covid-19,” said a report prepared by his lawyers, the Asrın Legal Bureau.
According to the report, the lawyers have requested that a number of precautions be taken on the island and have asked to visit their client, but they have not received a response to their appeals. Physical visits have been banned following the outbreak of the virus, but Öcalan's lawyers say that he has been denied requests to speak with his lawyers and relatives on the telephone.
“The telephone ban in question is not in accordance with legal procedures and discipline precedents. Basic channels of communication need to remain open under any circumstances,” the report said.
The Asrın Legal Bureau has called upon the CPT to contact Turkey's Ministry of Justice to demand and ensure that the authorities take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus to the Imralı prison and its inmates, and allow Öcalan to speak on the telephone with his lawyers and family members.