Turkish authorities release dozens of lawyers detained in Diyarbakır

(Updated with the lawyers' release and Diyarbakır Bar Association's statement) 

Twenty one lawyers detained in the early hours of Friday have been released in the evening, Diyarbakır Bar Association said in a tweet.

Twenty four lawyers had been detained in Friday's police raids in the predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakır province, the local association said, with more than 100 arrest warrants issued by local prosecutors. 

Among detainees is co-chair of the Lawyers' Association for Freedom (ÖHD) Bünyamin Şeker, as well as other ÖHD members, as part of an investigation by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Mezopotamya new agency reported.

Meanwhile, state-run Anadolu news agency said 101 people were being sought in Diyarbakır as part of an anti-terrorism investigation.

A platform for Kurdish civil-society organisations, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) had once received widespread political support, including from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, the umbrella group was criminalised following the failure of the peace-process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and is now accused of being a front for the armed group.

In a statement, Diyarbakır Bar Association President Cihan Aydın said: “This morning at around 5 a.m. at least 15 of our colleagues were detained by ransacking their homes. Our colleagues were detained for allegedly being mentioned in some DTK documents.”

Imprisoned former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş has also faced criminal charges over alleged links to the DTK, as has popular Kurdish politician Leyla Güven, who lost her parliamentary status earlier this year over the allegations. 

On Friday, former AKP minister Bülent Arınç called for Demirtaş to be released alongside philanthropist Osman Kavala, describing the indictments against them as so poorly put together “even a child wouldn’t have written them.”    

Kavala has been held on pre-trial detention since Oct. 2017 on a variety of accusations linked to overthrowing the government.

Demirtaş has been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled for both to be released.