Yilmaz S. did not know that the Turkish state was after him.
A five-member team from the Organized Crime Police Directorate in Ankara monitored him. When S. traveled by bus from Istanbul to Ankara on 17 September, two civil servants sat behind him. He was arrested immediately after arrival.
This is how it emerges from a statement of the authorities, which is available to SPIEGEL. The police also searched the lawyer's office in Istanbul.
Since mid-September, S. has been in Sincan Prison near Ankara, where some political prisoners are being held. Turkey accuses him of espionage.
S. had obtained as a so-called confidence lawyer on behalf of the Federal Government in Turkey information for asylum procedures Turkish seekers in Germany. SPIEGEL had made his case public last Wednesday.
According to the Foreign Office, S. is in solitary confinement. Embassy staff have no right to visit because he is a Turkish citizen. Lawyer Levent Kanat represents Yilmaz S. Kanat told the Turkish newspaper "Evrensel" that his client was in poor health.
S. studied law, at Dicle University in Diyarbakir, in the mostly Kurdish southeast of Turkey. He represented, among others, politicians of the pro-Kurdish party HDP. In 2010, he signed a petition calling for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict. According to colleagues, S. has been working for the German embassy in Ankara since 1997. The Turkish authorities apparently became aware of him when he was researching in a database of the Turkish Ministry of Justice.
Rainer Jensen / DPA
German Embassy in Ankara (archive photo): Foreign Minister Maas calls arrest "incomprehensible"
The case S. has aggravated the crisis in the German-Turkish relationship: The Federal Government fears that sensitive data on asylum seekers could have reached the Turkish secret service. According to a colleague, S. was arrested on his arrest by files of 43 asylum seekers. The state security has explicitly warned several victims that the Turkish secret service has received detailed information.
The Federal Foreign Office has suspended cooperation with trusted lawyers in Turkey. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addressed the case of Yilmaz S. at the edge of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Japan to his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu. Maas criticized the arrest of the lawyer as "incomprehensible". German diplomats speak of an affront.
Government-related Turkish media, meanwhile, are deliberately against S. They refer to the lawyer as a "spy" and "terrorist". The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly criticized in the past, back in Germany of the coup attempt of 2016. The Turkish government had demanded their extradition to Turkey.
It is still unclear what exactly the Turkish authorities accuse S.. His file is under lock and key. Colleagues, however, assume that charges could be brought against him later this week.
The process already shows how deep the gap between Berlin and Ankara still remains: While the federal government considers the lawyer's research routine, the Erdogan government sees this as further proof that the Germans support Turkey's enemies of the state.