Washington Law Firm Helped Turkey Gather Information On Its Critics In The U.S.
A Washington, D.C., law firm assisted the Turkish government in obtaining information about its critics — including U.S. residents — according to The Wall Street Journal.
Saltzman & Evinch PLLC reportedly acted on the orders of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, which in turn transferred the information to public prosecutors in Turkey, per two Turkish government memos labeled “secret” reviewed by The Journal.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is intent on finding and prosecuting individuals associated with Fethullah Gulen, a cleric holed up in Pennsylvania who leads the worldwide, moderate Islamic movement.
Erdogan has repeatedly requested that U.S. officials turn Gulen over to Turkish authorities, speaking with President Donald Trump again on the issue during his visit to the White House on Wednesday. Turkey has accused Gulen of instigating a coup against the president in 2016, though U.S. officials say the Turksih government has not offered sufficient evidence for their claims.
Since the coup attempt, more than 80,000 people have been jailed, The Journal reported, and the State Department has noted problems including “suspicious deaths of persons in custody; forced disappearances; torture” and other human rights abuses.
The Washington law firm obtained material “from public databases, social media and other open-source information” to put together a report that was later “transmitted to Turkey’s Foreign and Justice ministries and from there to public prosecutors in Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, the documents show.”
David Saltzman of Saltzman & Evinch said in a statement: “As is widely known, we have represented the government of Turkey in a variety of matters over the years, including federal litigation. But we are proscribed from commenting on this matter due to the attorney-client privilege.”