At least six people were killed when a major earthquake in the Aegean Sea rattled parts of Greece and western Turkey on Friday, leveling structures in the western Turkish province of Izmir and severely damaging several residential buildings, Turkey’s emergency management agency said.
The agency said at least 202 people were confirmed injured and rescue efforts were underway in a dozen buildings in Izmir. The full extent of the injuries and deaths is unclear.
Murat Kurum, the environment minister, said in televised remarks that there were reports of people trapped under debris, many of them in the Bayrakli neighborhood of Izmir, a province with a population of more than four million. Images posted to social media and videos aired on state television showed people being rescued from the rubble.
The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.0 according to the United States Geological Survey, was centered off Samos, a Greek island near Turkey’s coast, according to Turkey’s disaster management agency.
The situation in Izmir, Turkey
The quake was felt in Istanbul, about 200 miles northeast of Izmir, and in parts of Greece. But much of the initial damage seemed to be centered in the city of Izmir, a center for tourism and industry that is prone to earthquakes.
At least six buildings were destroyed in the city, Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister, said in a tweet, although the city’s mayor put the number of destroyed buildings closer to 20. Mr. Soylu said there were no initial reports of casualties from nearby cities.
The I.H.H. Humanitarian Relief Foundation said on Twitter that it had sent a 250-person search-and-rescue team to the area.
Footage aired by the Turkish news agency DHA showed at least one building flattened and people climbing atop the debris to shout for survivors in the rubble.
Images posted to social media showed panicked residents running into the street, many of them wearing face masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, and severely damaged buildings teetering. In one, it appeared that several apartments in a six-story building had collapsed in on one another.
One young man was pulled from the debris of a fallen building in Izmir and was quickly reunited with his mother, who embraced him.
“My three children were at home. I was not,” his mother told Haber Turk Television. “They are all fine, survived.”
Teoman Cuneyt Acar, a resident of Izmir who felt the quake, told Haber Turk TV that the tremor lasted for around 45 seconds.
Gulen Kurtcebe, who was at a market in the Kahramanlar neighborhood of Izmir when the earthquake struck, said that although locals were accustomed to experiencing earthquakes, “this was different.” Initially, she said, she thought she was having a dizzy spell, but then a woman nearby started screaming, “Earthquake!”
“At that moment we all started to run,” she said. “But I saw the trees — they were shaking. Elderly people fell down, some others stepped on them. We couldn’t go home. We are now at the fairground, as it’s the most spacious place.”
Cenk Hosfikirer, 32, was working at home in Izmir when the quake began.
“It was the biggest quake I have ever experienced,” he said, though he noted that no buildings in his neighborhood had collapsed. “The lamps swung and the apartment door opened. At that moment, I thought, ‘Am I going to die?’”
The impact in Greece
On the Greek island of Samos, residents poured onto the streets, with many posting photos and videos on social media showing the main port flooded.
Two text messages were sent out by Greece’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection using a European emergency alert system, with the “extreme alert” designation warning people on several islands in the triangle formed by Ikaria, Kos and Chios to avoid the coastline at risk of a possible tsunami.
An additional message was sent to residents of Samos urging them to remain outdoors in safe areas away from buildings. Photos from the island showed that a section of a cathedral in Karlovassi, the second-largest town in Samos, had collapsed.
The deputy mayor of Samos, Giorgos Dionysiou, described “scenes of chaos” on the island in comments carried by several Greek news websites. “People are panicking and have run out onto the streets,” he said. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
He said that several buildings had been damaged, mainly older ones, though he had no information about any injuries.
Greece and Turkey have often shared the suffering wrought by quakes
Greece and Turkey, currently locked into a bitter dispute that marks one of the lowest points of their bilateral relations in decades, have long shared the suffering unleashed by quakes.
But quakes in the area have also been the basis for years of improved relations. More than two decades ago, a set of devastating tremors that hit the neighboring nations formed an era known as “earthquake diplomacy.” The shared calamity reminded governments and citizens on both sides of the Aegean of their closely knit fates.
In August 1999 a major earthquake — 7.6 magnitude — in northwestern Turkey caused extensive damage, leaving more than 17,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Greece responded instantly, by sending large search-and-rescue teams and organizing aid through nongovernment organizations and private citizens’ initiatives, including a major blood drive to help save lives across the border.
Within three weeks Turks reciprocated. A major earthquake hit Athens, which was badly affected because of its dense urban layout. More than 140 people were killed and property was severely damaged. The Turkish government quickly dispatched an expert search-and-rescue team to Athens, and phone lines to the Greek embassy in Ankara were flooded with calls from Turks trying to donate blood to help rescue Greeks, according to media outlets in both countries.
Foreign ministers George Papandreou of Greece and Ismail Cem of Turkey were credited with reaping the spontaneous, tangible expression of neighborliness and friendship in the following years, spearheading a series of “confidence-building measures,” a set of so-called soft diplomacy engagements centering around largely uncontroversial topics. The engagements nonetheless set a positive tone for the two men to engage on thorny topics that continue to dog the relationship between the countries to this day.
Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.
Egyptian Teen Seeks Justice for Rape, and a Battle Erupts Over Women’s Rights
A generation of young women in Egypt who have found their voice on social media are challenging the old rules that blamed women when they were attacked by men.
CAIRO — It was a party Aya Khamees has tried to forget.
One evening in May, the 18-year-old woman met up with a few friends, and a few of their friends, at a seedy hotel outside Cairo, not far from the majestic pyramids of Giza. They brought chicken and rice, beer and hash, and rented a few rooms to hang out, flouting Egypt’s strict social rules prohibiting unmarried men and women from mixing in private.
Around 1 a.m., a quarrel broke out. According to prosecutors, a young man, pretending to console Ms. Khamees, walked her into a room, held a razor to her face and raped her.
She went to a police station, battered and bruised, and was turned away, told to go to a different one. With no family to look to for support, she said she felt abandoned and alone.
So she turned to her virtual world. Looking directly into a phone, her eyes blackened, her face cut, she broadcast an account of her attack on TikTok, where she had hundreds of thousands of followers.
“If the government is watching, I want them to get out and get me my rights,” she demanded.
The video went viral, and within days the police had rounded up the entire group — the accused rapist, the other party guests, and Ms. Khamees. She was charged with prostitution, drug use and a crime recently added to Egypt’s penal code: violation of family values.
Blaming the victim for a sex crime is not unusual in Egypt.
But as the video continued to garner views online, a hashtag campaign arose demanding justice, and her case became the subject of the TV news and talk shows. After a three-month probation, during which she was required to complete a rehabilitation program, the charges were dropped.
“At first the government wasn’t going to help me,” Ms. Khamees said in an interview. “But when people spoke up, when my story became a public case, things changed.”
While dropping charges against the victim may seem like scant progress, the case was a harbinger of big changes rocking Egypt’s traditional male-dominated culture. A generation of young women who have found new freedoms online and a voice on social media are challenging the old guard of a socially conservative, patriarchal state that policed the morality of women while allowing crimes against them to go unpunished.
Her case was the leading edge of a moment that seemed to burst out of nowhere all at once.
In July, dozens of women went public with accusations in a serial assault case, leading to an arrest and prosecution. In another high-profile case, a woman testified against a group of wealthy young men, accusing them of gang-raping her years ago in a five-star hotel. And hundreds of reports poured into the National Council for Women with accusations of assaults.
But the groundswell didn’t come out of nowhere. It had been brewing quietly on social media, one of the few remaining precincts of free expression under the rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose government tightly controls traditional media like television and newspapers.
Now the state is pushing back against what some argue amounts to the unraveling of the country’s fundamental values.
A cybercrime law passed two years ago, partly in an effort to regulate social media, created the crime of violating “Egyptian family values.” The values were not defined, leaving it to judges and prosecutors, most of whom are men, to decide what constitutes a violation.
This year, the law took on the wildly popular TikTok app, a network for posting brief videos that young Egyptian women have seized on to flaunt their sexuality in ways they can’t do in real life. The women often wear trendy clothes that push the boundaries of what most Egyptian women can wear in public, and the most popular accounts have amassed millions of followers.
Egyptian prosecutors convicted at least nine TikTok stars this year, all women, of violating family values, sentencing them to at least two years in prison.
“Look at this!” said Mohammad el-Sehemy, a lawyer whose complaint helped send one of the women to jail, furiously pointing to a picture on his phone of a woman sitting in the back seat of a car, fully clothed, her legs wide apart. “It’s suggestive in ways that don’t fit our society.”
Such pictures rob society of its “innocence, chastity and purity,” he said, and would lead other young women down the same sinful road.
Asked why this type of moral policing targets women more than men, he gave a quizzical look. “What indecent thing can a guy do?” he asked.
Ms. Khamees has an answer for him.
Prosecutors say she was raped twice that night in May. Two other guests filmed her trying to get dressed after the attack, visibly shaken and gasping for air. A man is heard making an obscene comment about her, then a hard slap lands on her face. The video was posted online the next day.
“They wanted to break me,” Ms. Khamees said. “It looked like I was caught red handed, doing something wrong, like a prostitute.”
There are no official numbers for the incidence of sexual assault in Egypt, but experts say the number reported is a fraction of those committed. Women are terrified of reporting the crimes for fear they will be blamed and end up in jail.
The investigation usually entails scrutiny of the victim’s sexual history, with an emphasis on her virginity status. If she wasn’t a virgin, women’s advocates say, the police and prosecutors conclude she had it coming.
“If a girl had sex in previous relationships, there’s this sense of why not him as well?” said Hoda Nasralla, Ms. Khamees’s lawyer. “She’ll be perceived as a whore who encouraged the man to rape her. In the public imagination, for it to be considered rape, a woman has to be this innocent virgin who gets kidnapped before she’s assaulted.”
Even as the state moved to drop charges against Ms. Khamees, prosecutors mandated a three-month rehabilitation program to “reform her” and “correct her concepts.” The prosecutor’s statement conceded that she was a victim, deprived of her parents, who were dead, and “fooled by the fame that she achieved in a virtual environment, especially social media sites that delivered her to the wrong crowd.”
Lobna Darwish, the gender and human rights officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an independent human rights group, applauded the decision to drop the charges but criticized the public prosecutor’s disciplinary tone.
“It’s like saying this woman needs to behave,” she said. “So the question becomes what is moral without establishing that women are free to live as they wish and still have a right to be safe.”
Ms. Khamees’s posts on TikTok, where she uses the handle Menna Abdel Aziz, were standard fare for the medium, with lots of dancing and posing in sexy outfits. For her generation, online at least, this is the new normal.
“What’s different is they’re not hiding, they’re wearing crop tops and dancing in the street,” Ms. Darwish said. “The idea that these women, who are not privileged, could have their own sense of self-worth and freedom drives people crazy. There’s an atmosphere of panic that society is changing.”
In many ways it is, with young women in the vanguard.
There’s Nadine Abdel Hamid, 22, a music technology student at one of Egypt’s elite universities who outed a young man in June who had harassed and blackmailed her for years. The revelation encouraged other women to speak out, producing an avalanche of harrowing testimonies including dozens who said they had been assaulted. The case led to a law protecting the identity of the accuser in sexual assault cases.
There’s Nour Imam, 28, who works as a doula, a woman who assists with childbirth, and is a growing Instagram phenomenon, who has made it her mission to normalize discussion of a woman’s body. One of her latest posts, an illustration of a woman holding up a mirror to her vagina, drove away hundreds of followers. Her response, in another post: “Bye.”
Fadila Elkarrany, 21, created Teen Times, an online magazine for teenage girls. Some of its content mirrors that of old-school teen magazines with tips on how to lose weight and prevent ingrown hairs. More surprising, however, are articles that offer advice on how to “sext” safely “if your reputation is important to you but so is your sexual health.”
And then there is Ms. Khamees, who set a precedent by exposing her identity and confronting her rapist and his accomplices online. Because she had shared her story widely, The New York Times, with her permission, used her name and photographs in this article.
The suspect in her case, Bassam Hanna, a 25-year-old liquor store owner, has denied the charges. His trial has begun and he is expected to appear in court in December.
Ms. Khamees has taken her fate with a mix of acceptance and cynicism. In rehab a social worker helped her discern “right from wrong,” she said, and sounded like she meant it.
She lives with her older brother, who acts as her guardian and lets her go out one night a week. Otherwise, her social life is mostly on TikTok and Instagram.
But she has deactivated her old accounts and started new ones to revamp her image. She still sings and dances, but in a T-shirt covering her chest and shoulders.
“It’s backward,” she said, sitting in a coffee shop in a sleeveless shirt, smoking a cigarette. “But I have to get in line and be backward. We’re not in America.”
She had scars running up the insides of her arms where she’d cut herself. She described them as cries for help, not suicide attempts, and most were reactions to two shattering events: Some she made after her mother died four years ago, others after she said she was raped.
She is still waiting for justice.
“I want to see the people who hurt me go to jail,” she said. “I will walk with my head held high or I will unleash all hell on this country. Just look what I managed to do with a five-minute video.”
2nd Man Is Arrested Over Knife Attack in Nice
The man, 47, was suspected of being in contact with a knife-wielding assailant who killed three people at a church on Thursday, the French authorities said.
PARIS — The French authorities said on Friday that they had arrested a man suspected of being in contact with an assailant who killed three people at a church in Nice on Thursday, an attack that rattled the country and reignited fears of terrorism as officials blamed some foreign leaders for stoking hatred of France.
An official in the French judiciary, who was not authorized to speak publicly on a continuing investigation, said that the suspect, a 47-year-old man, had been arrested on Thursday night, but did not provide further details. French security forces routinely use a wide scope when arresting and questioning suspects’ family, friends and contacts after an attack.
Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, said that France faced a high-level threat of terrorism and was being “particularly targeted” because of what he called the country’s staunch defense of freedom of expression and secularism. The authorities placed the country on its highest terrorism threat level in the hours that followed the attack.
Debates about cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad have strained France’s relations with some Muslim-majority countries since the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb by a Muslim man this month.
In Thursday’s attack, a man entered the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice shortly after it opened in the morning and fatally attacked three people with a seven-inch knife. Two similar knives were found near his bag, which was left in the church.
The police confronted the assailant at the church while the attack was in progress, shooting and wounding him. The suspect, a Tunisian man in his early 20s who has not been identified, is still hospitalized.
It was not immediately clear how the second arrested man might be connected to the attack or what contacts he had with the main suspect, who was not known to the French police or intelligence services.
Mr. Darmanin, the interior minister, told RTL radio on Friday that the main suspect had arrived in Italy from Tunisia last month and then apparently traveled on to France hours or days before the attack.
The Italian authorities said that the suspect arrived on the island of Lampedusa on a small boat on Sept. 20 and was ordered to leave the country on Oct. 9, but that they had received no warning from the Tunisian authorities that he represented a threat.
Luciana Lamorgese, Italy’s interior minister, said at a news conference on Friday that most migrants who arrived in Italy this year were Tunisians — 11,195 people out of a total of 27,190. Tunisia’s economic crisis and the social unrest provoked by the pandemic have pushed a growing number of people to leave, she said.
One of the victims in Thursday’s attack, a 60-year-old woman, had her throat cut so deeply that it was akin to a decapitation, according to France’s top antiterrorism prosecutor.
Another victim, Vincent Loquès, a 55-year-old man who was the church’s sacristan, also had serious throat wounds. The third victim — a 44-year-old Brazilian woman living in France, according to the Brazilian authorities — escaped the basilica but died of her wounds shortly afterward.
Mr. Darmanin also said that he had warned the local security authorities around the country last Sunday of heightened security risks after a group close to Al Qaeda issued a statement calling for people to attack French targets, including churches and embassies.
In a separate attack on Thursday, a knife-wielding assailant wounded a security guard outside a French Consulate in Saudi Arabia.
The assault in Nice bore similarities to the recent killing of Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old schoolteacher, near Paris. He was decapitated by an 18-year-old Muslim man who was angered that Mr. Paty had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.
Since Mr. Paty’s killing, the French authorities have undertaken a broad crackdown against what they characterized as Islamist extremists in France, conducting dozens of raids, temporarily closing a major mosque and disbanding two groups that they accused of “advocating radical Islam” and hate speech.
In the aftermath of the attack, the response by French officials — especially President Emmanuel Macron’s vow that France would protect the right to caricature — has been denounced by some Muslim leaders. French officials have grown increasingly outraged over those verbal attacks.
Mr. Darmanin singled out some leaders for promoting “extremely strong calls to hatred” against France over the past few weeks, including “absolutely scandalous” comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has questioned Mr. Macron’s mental health.
On Thursday, in a tweet that was later removed, Mahathir Mohamad, a former prime minister of Malaysia, said that Muslims had a right to “kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.”
Mr. Darmanin said: “We are at war, facing an enemy that is both an internal enemy and an external enemy. We are not at war against a religion, but against an ideology, the Islamist ideology.”
And Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, said in Parliament on Thursday that France could not accept “disinformation and manipulation campaigns” against France by those who ”portray our commitment to fundamental freedoms as an attack on the freedom of worship.”
The transition from “virtual hate to real violence” is a quick one, Mr. Le Drian said. But he also sent a “message of peace to the Muslim world.”
“France is not the country of contempt or rejection — it is the country of tolerance,” he said. “Don’t listen to voices that seek to stir up distrust. Muslim religion and culture are part of our French and European history.”
Bruno Le Maire, the economy minister, told France Inter radio on Friday that he disliked the use of caricatures of Islam’s prophet. “But I will be the first to defend those who made them and those who distribute them,” he said.
Nice, a city on the French Riviera near the Italian border, has been traumatized several times by terrorist attacks. In 2016, in one of France’s deadliest attacks, a Tunisian man killed 86 people when he drove a truck through crowds who had gathered in the city to watch Bastille Day fireworks.
Christian Estrosi, the city’s mayor, told Europe 1 radio on Friday that he felt angry after the attack and urged France to change its Constitution if needed to pass stringent antiterrorism laws.
Just as the French are forgoing certain freedoms because of the coronavirus pandemic — on Friday, the country entered a nationwide lockdown that will last at least a month — they should be willing to do the same to stop terrorism, Mr. Estrosi said.
“Islam-facism is a virus,” he said. “We have permanent bombs on our territory that could explode at any moment.”
Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting from Rome.
New Zealand Voters Approve Euthanasia but Reject Recreational Marijuana
Proponents of legalizing cannabis voiced anger at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who revealed only after the referendum that she supported it.
New Zealand will join a small number of countries that have legalized euthanasia after its citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of it in a referendum this month.
A second question on the ballot during the Oct. 17 federal election — on legalizing recreational marijuana use — was set to fail, according to preliminary results released on Friday.
Proponents of the cannabis measure expressed frustration with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had declined to take a position on legalization before the election and revealed only on Friday that she had voted in support of it.
On euthanasia, though, her stance had been clear. Ms. Ardern, who retained the prime ministership with a landslide victory in the federal election, had long expressed support for legalization, and the measure passed with 65 percent of the vote.
The ballot question had bipartisan backing, with her primary opponent in the election, Judith Collins of the center-right National Party, also expressing support. Parliament passed a bill legalizing euthanasia last year, though it needed to be ratified with at least 50 percent support in a referendum to come into effect.
Now, beginning on Nov. 6 of next year, doctors will be able to legally prescribe a lethal dose of medicine to patients suffering from terminal illnesses likely to end their life within six months.
To be eligible, patients must have a significant and ongoing decline in physical ability and experience “unbearable suffering that cannot be eased.” They must voluntarily request the procedure and show that they are able to make an informed decision. Two doctors will have to sign off on the decision.
“What a great day to be a Kiwi,” David Seymour, the lawmaker who had sponsored the act, said to supporters gathered to celebrate the result at Parliament on Friday. He added that the vote had made “New Zealand a kinder, more compassionate, more humane society.”
Euthanasia is legal in five other countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada and Colombia. Physician-assisted suicide, in which doctors give patients the means to kill themselves, is legal in Switzerland. Some American states and the Australian state of Victoria have legalized forms of assisted dying.
Similarly for marijuana, only a few nations have legalized its recreational use, though several have decriminalized it.
In New Zealand, the ballot measure required voters to approve not just the general principle of legalization, but also specific regulations for the creation of a legal market. Fifty-three percent of voters opposed the measure, and 46 percent voted yes.
Unlike the euthanasia vote, the cannabis referendum was nonbinding, but Justice Minister Andrew Little said on Friday that the government would drop efforts to legalize or decriminalize the drug.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana said they believed that the result could have been changed if Ms. Ardern — who acknowledged during a debate on Sept. 30 that she had used the drug “a long time ago” — had declared her support.
Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University, said the seven-point gap would most likely have “been a whole lot tighter had the P.M. taken the position in public that we now know she took on the ballot herself.”
Especially online, he said, “there’s a certain measure of disaffection, frustration and no small amount of anger that she’s now indicated she has this position and hasn’t clarified why she didn’t take this position before the election.”
New Zealand has historically taken a conservative approach to drugs — in legislation if not always in practice, said Marta Rychert, a drug policy researcher at Massey University. The result, she said, “shows that it’s difficult to garner public support for quite a radical cannabis law reform.”
Dr. Rychert added that the messaging used by proponents, which focused on the health and well-being of New Zealanders, might have been less effective than the economic-focused pitches made by advocates in some American states.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation said the country still must act to reverse a punitive approach to drugs that fell disproportionately on young people and the Indigenous Maori.
“Although a majority of New Zealanders did not vote for the proposed model of legalization, the debate has shown a clear public desire for legal change in some form,” the group’s chairman, Tuari Potiki, said in a statement.
Half a million “special votes” in the referendum still have to be counted, and official results will not be released until Nov. 6. But Mr. Little said the results were “highly unlikely” to be overturned.
The Saturday Profile
‘What a Barrister Looks Like’: A Young Black Woman Paves the Way
Alexandra Wilson is working to change England’s legal establishment, and perceptions about who belongs in it, from the inside.
LONDON — It was looking like a typical day at the office for Alexandra Wilson as she arrived at a London courthouse ready to defend someone accused of theft.
She tied her hair into a neat knot, shrugged on her black robe and pulled on a white horsehair wig — the official garb of Britain’s barristers, the lawyers who argue most cases in court.
But once she was in the courtroom, things went off script. In a patronizing exchange that was rude at best and hostile at worst, the prosecutor, an older white man, scoffed at Ms. Wilson, chided her for speaking with her client and tutted at her requests for details on court documents.
Unfortunately, it was an all too typical day for Ms. Wilson in a profession where, as a young Black woman, she often finds herself fighting for recognition and respect.
“It certainly does happen to a lot of Black barristers,” she said after the encounter. “My ability is underestimated, quite a lot.”
Last month, in an incident that made headlines in Britain — and spurred a public apology from the acting head of the country’s court system — Ms. Wilson was shouted at for entering the court to defend her client, one of three times that day she was assumed to be a defendant.
Ms. Wilson wrote about the encounter in a Twitter thread that soon went viral, and said the incident underscored broader issues in the justice system.
“For me, it was a real insight that Black people are being criminalized from when they are first laid eyes on,” she said. “How can I reassure my clients that it’s a fair system if people are already making their mind up from seeing a Black person that you are likely to be a criminal?”
That is part of her drive to be here.
“I thought the best way to make a difference was to be a part of the system that is so problematic and to make change from the inside,” she said. “It’s one thing calling out all of the problems, but we need to actually think, ‘How are we going to solve this?’”
As the 25-year-old daughter of a Black Caribbean father and white British mother from working-class roots, she is still a rarity in the cavernous halls of England’s courts.
Her unabashed observations about race and class have drawn a following of thousands on Twitter, inspired a book about her experiences and driven her to found a community for Black women in the legal professions. Just over a year into her career, she’s only getting started.
A tweet she posted a few months before becoming a practicing barrister in early 2019 that included a photo of her in her official attire and the note “THIS is what a barrister looks like” was the first to draw attention.
The most recent statistics on diversity among Britain’s barristers, from the Bar Standards Board, the profession’s regulating body in England and Wales, are grim. Nearly 100 years after the first women became barristers in 1922, women account for just 38 percent of the profession and 16 percent of the most senior barristers, known as Queen’s Counsel. And Black barristers account for just 3.2 percent of all barristers and 1.1 percent of the most senior ones.
A 2018 report from the Bar Standards Board noted that Black prospective barristers encounter significantly higher barriers to entering the profession than their white peers and are less likely to be taken on as trainees.
Yet Black people are overrepresented in the prison population, data from the Justice Ministry shows, with Black people making up about 12 percent of the prison population but just 3 percent of the total population in England and Wales.
The result, Ms. Wilson noted, is criminal courtrooms where those in positions of authority are overwhelmingly white and defendants are disproportionately Black.
“If you’ve got an overrepresentation of Black people on the wrong side of the law, being pushed through the system,” she said, “and they don’t see any Black people representing them, how can they trust us?”
Ms. Wilson confronts the skewed dynamic head on in her book, “In Black and White,” a memoir that details her experience as a barrister and her journey to get there, while unpacking the issues of race and class in a justice system long dominated by rich white men.
She thinks the time is right for Britain to address racial inequality after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off protests and a global conversation about race, including in Britain.
“I think we like to think of ourselves as this post-racial society where race doesn’t exist and we all live in racial harmony, and frankly, it’s not true,” she said.
She specialized in criminal and family law practice in the hopes of maximizing the impact she can make, and is a founding member of One Case at a Time, an initiative to fund and provide legal representation for people of color.
“We can’t just fool ourselves into thinking that everyone has the exact same life chances and everyone is on a level playing field, because they are not,” she said.
Ms. Wilson grew up the eldest of four children in Essex, an area of southeastern England bordering London. Her father is first-generation British, born in England to Jamaican parents who immigrated to the country with a wave of other workers from the Caribbean as part of the “Windrush Generation.” Her mother came from a British working-class family and grew up in social housing.
Both went on to received their college degrees as adults and are both now teachers, and Ms. Wilson credits her own ambition and perseverance to them.
When she was 17, the death of a close friend who was stabbed in London in a case of mistaken identity forced her to take a hard look at the system.
“For me, that was the first time I really started to appreciate how important color was,” she said, “because I had absolutely no doubt if he had been white, he wouldn’t have been killed that day.”
She followed his case through the courts and began to look into other cases, too. After his death, she knew she wanted a career that allowed her to address racial inequities in the justice system.
Yet she had to fight for her place every step of the way. When she told teachers that she wanted to apply to the University Oxford, one told her mother that she was “too ambitious.”
When she graduated from Oxford — after studying in classrooms where she was often the only Black student — and applied for a legal traineeship, peers told her it would be impossible. And when she became a barrister, they said she wouldn’t fit in.
But last year, when she picked up the formal garb of her new profession — her new wig in a tin case with “Alexandra J. Wilson” in gold lettering on the front — with her grandmother by her side, she knew they were wrong.
Now, she wants to lift up other women of color who are making their way into the profession. This year, she founded Black Women in Law, a community for aspiring lawyers and women already in the field. The group has close to 600 members who connect for conversations, advice and mentoring and organizes online events for schools.
“It’s so important that kids see Black female lawyers,” Ms. Wilson said. “I didn’t, and I wanted to.”
Schools Stay Open in Europe’s New Lockdowns, a Reversal From Spring
Europe’s latest wave of restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus have largely avoided closing schools. We take a look at why and how they are being kept open.
BERLIN — When Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the latest round of restrictions on public life, she named bars, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, gyms and tattoo parlors as institutions that would be forced to close. But missing from the list released on Wednesday were schools and day care centers — among the first to be shuttered in the spring lockdown.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron also said on Wednesday that schools would be exempt from wide-reaching nationwide restrictions that are to take effect beginning Friday. Ireland also allowed schools to remain open despite a nationwide lockdown that went into effect earlier this month.
Not everyone is happy with the decisions, but policymakers are taking extra precautions to reduce the risk in schools, from mask requirements for teachers and pupils, to regular airing of classrooms, to split use of schoolyards during breaks. They say they are applying hard-learned lessons from months of fighting the pandemic, and are prepared to change directions if things take a turn for the worse.
Why keep schools open?
Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that while his country could no longer avoid restrictions, despite the detrimental impact on the economy, it was vital that schools remained open.
“We cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease,” Mr. Martin said in a national address. “They need their education.”
Around the world, there is mounting concern that the pandemic is doing lasting harm to the academic and emotional development of an entire generation of children.
Earlier this month, the German conference of ministers of culture, who are responsible for coordinating education policy, stressed children’s right to an education, which they said is best served among peers, in classrooms. “This must take highest priority in making all decisions about restrictive measures that need to be taken,” the minister said.
In making her announcement, Ms. Merkel cited another reason that maintaining access to schools was important, pointing to the “dramatic social consequences” that closing schools and day care centers had on families during the lockdown in March and April.
“To name it clearly: Violent assaults against women and children increased dramatically,” Ms. Merkel said, justifying her government’s decision to halt sports, cultural events and close restaurants instead. “It is important to bear in mind the social consequences if we have to intervene in these issues.”
Keeping children at home often made it hard for parents — especially mothers — to devote their divided attention to work.
What are medical experts saying?
Medical experts point to many things they now know that were unknown back in the spring: with proper precautions, the rate of coronavirus transmission in schools is relatively low, especially among the youngest students; children who do get infected tend to have mild symptoms; and measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and air circulation are more effective than they had predicted.
But that does not mean open schools are risk-free. While schools are not known to have been a major source of outbreaks in western Europe and the United States, they were in Israel, when it wasn’t implementing social distancing in schools and relaxed a restriction requiring masks.
Students and staff members are still in danger of catching the virus and spreading it, particularly to family members who are threatened because they are older or have compromised immune systems. There are no perfect answers, so it is a matter of balancing one set of risks against another.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control found that children accounted for less than 5 percent of all cases of coronavirus reported in the 27 countries of the European Union and Britain, in a study released in August. The agency found that school closures would be “unlikely to provide significant additional protection of children’s health.”
What precautions are being taken?
A French requirement for school children to wear masks will be expanded to include elementary school children, starting at age six. Previous regulations have only required children 11 and older to be masked.
But experts worry that just masks alone will not provide sufficient protection as long as the children continue to crowd into the cafeteria during their lunch periods, when their masks come off and the risk of droplets spreading while they sit together poses a risk of infection.
“Right now having lunch all together indoors with windows closed is a problem,” said Dr. Hélène Rossinot, a French doctor specializing in public health. “We proposed that could be served in the classrooms, that they not eat all together, just by class.”
Regularly opening windows to allow fresh air into classrooms would also help slow the spread of the virus, experts say, but that will become more difficult as the weather turns colder and wetter.
Germany didn’t introduce any new restrictions in schools on Wednesday. But since schools reopened the country has been requiring a variety of precautions.
German schools are required to draw up safety plans that include opening windows fully at least once during a class period and again during breaks to ensure ventilation, even when pupils are masked.
Germany’s public health authority has recommended that schools require people to wear masks when moving through hallways and that older students wear them while seated in class. Social distancing requirements include reducing class sizes so that children can sit farther apart, and keeping each student within the same cluster of others throughout the day, even on the playground.
If a region’s rate of infection rises to more than 50 people per 100,000 population, it recommends schools should move to blended or distanced learning. Other governments in Europe, and some in the United States, have adopted similar rules suggesting or mandating that where infections reach a certain threshold, school close.
What do parents and teachers think?
Many people are concerned about open schools, but unlike parts of the United States, Europe has seen little resistance to them, from either parents or teachers. In general, attendance is required and distance learning is not an option.
While many parents are relieved to have their children in school, instead of being forced to juggle the double burden of working from home and helping children with distance learning, others worry their children are being forced to face undue risks.
Teachers in France are concerned that requiring elementary school children to wear masks is not enough to ensure that everyone stays healthy. “We need to reduce the number of students being taught by moving to blended teaching,” Guislaine David, secretary-general of the SNUipp teachers union in the Seine-Maritime region told France2 television.
Many teachers in Germany worry that although precautions have been drawn up, not all schools are following them. They fear the political will to keep children in classrooms will prevail even in regions where health authorities recommend moving to distance-learning because the infection rate is too high.
“We say, yes keep schools open, and keep following the rules for the levels of infection,” said Heinz-Peter Meidinger, president of the German Teachers Association. “But do not keep schools open at any price.”
Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.
Labour Party Suspends Jeremy Corbyn Over Anti-Semitism Response
A long-awaited official report strongly criticized Britain’s main opposition party, which Mr. Corbyn once led. His reply to the findings prompted his suspension.
LONDON — Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday after he deflected blame for the party’s handling of anti-Semitism allegations, setting the stage for an extraordinary rupture with Labour’s recent past and another period of tortured infighting over its future.
The suspension had few precedents in the history of British politics. Only a little more than 10 months after an election in which Labour fought to make Mr. Corbyn prime minister, and just over six months since he stepped down as leader, Mr. Corbyn was no longer a Labour lawmaker.
The impact on Britain’s resurgent left-wing opposition was far from certain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has been hurt by its bungling of the coronavirus response, creating an opening for Labour less than a year after it was seemingly relegated to the political wilderness by its worst election loss since 1935.
But the suspension of Mr. Corbyn, a longtime torchbearer for Labour’s hard left, risked plunging the party back into the vicious factional disputes that became its trademark weakness during his five years in charge.
It also sent shock waves through British politics.
“It’s an extremely unusual thing for a former leader of a major political party to be suspended by that party,” said Rob Ford, a professor of politics at The University of Manchester and co-author of “Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics.” “Even the most trenchant critics of Corbyn, I think, would not have expected a move that dramatic.”
Already on Thursday, leftist party members were raising the specter of mass resignations; a group of avowedly socialist Labour lawmakers was reportedly debating leaving the party; and union leaders allied with Mr. Corbyn lashed out at what they called “a political decision” by his successor, Keir Starmer.
The dispute was set off by the release on Thursday of a long-awaited report by a British human rights watchdog about anti-Semitism within Labour. In 2019, the agency began investigating accusations that Labour dithered in its response to anti-Semitism allegations and interfered on behalf of Mr. Corbyn’s political allies.
After a formal investigation, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission — an independent official watchdog group whose recommendations are legally enforceable — said that Labour bore responsibility for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish members on Mr. Corbyn’s watch.
It found that Labour’s political leadership had interfered in the party’s own investigations of anti-Semitic incidents. Those included a complaint against Mr. Corbyn for once defending a mural that featured grotesque caricatures of hooknosed Jewish bankers.
The watchdog also described the party as having created a culture that could, at times, be seen as tolerant of anti-Semitism and accused two former party officials of anti-Semitic comments that it said amounted to unlawful harassment.
For Mr. Starmer, a former prosecutor and human rights lawyer, rooting out anti-Semitism and repairing ties with British Jews has been a defining goal of his leadership.
“I found this report hard to read, and it is a day of shame for the Labour Party,” he said on Thursday, standing behind a lectern bearing the slogan “A New Leadership” — an unsubtle signal of his effort to transform the party. “We have failed the Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public.”
But Mr. Corbyn’s own response to the watchdog report was more equivocal, mirroring statements he gave for years as party leader that Jewish Labour members saw as trying to make excuses for insufficient action against anti-Semitism.
In a statement on Facebook, he acknowledged anti-Semitism within Labour and said that he had tried to make it easier to expel anti-Semitic members. At the same time, he cast the yearslong scandal as a creation of his political opponents.
“One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” he wrote. “That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.”
A few hours later, Labour said that it had suspended Mr. Corbyn over those comments and had begun an investigation.
“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” the party said.
Mr. Corbyn retains his seat in Parliament, but loses, at least temporarily, any affiliation with Labour.
The party did not immediately make clear what rule Mr. Corbyn had breached, though analysts said it likely had to do with bringing the party into disrepute. With the watchdog having just criticized Labour for a politicized complaints process, analysts said the party would have to take heed of due process and could very well end up reinstating him after its investigation.
Labour said the punishment was decided on by party officials, not Mr. Starmer.
Mr. Corbyn said that he would “strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me” while also urging members to train their opposition on Mr. Johnson’s government.
Analysts said the decision risked reminding voters of Labour’s internal feuds at the very moment it had Mr. Johnson on the defensive over the country’s rising coronavirus deaths and his refusal to provide children with free meals when school is not in session.
For many Labour members, the party’s long fight over anti-Semitism had become deeply personal. Left-wing Jews described being torn over how to vote in the last election and the need to weigh Labour’s missteps with Mr. Johnson’s own record of racist and anti-Islamic remarks.
The fight exposed deep disagreements on the British left over what was fair criticism of Israel and what made use of anti-Semitic prejudices. And it has highlighted how certain strains of anticapitalism, a position embraced by Mr. Corbyn, have historically risked casting Jews as a class of rich conspirators oppressing working people.
A number of Labour lawmakers quit the party under Mr. Corbyn, citing his handling of the anti-Semitism accusations. He was also often criticized for vacillating on the party’s position on the crucial issue facing Britain during his leadership: Brexit.
The Conservative Party quickly tried to cast Mr. Starmer as a hypocrite, reminding people that he had stood alongside Mr. Corbyn for years as a senior Labour lawmaker and accusing him of doing “what’s politically expedient.”
The Jewish Labour Movement, a 100-year-old socialist group that decided not to campaign nationally for Labour for the first time in its history in the last election, praised the suspension.
“Denial of anti-Semitism is part of the problem,” it said in a statement. “Keir Starmer made that clear and said that he would act and that it would have no place in the Labour Party. He has taken responsibility and the Labour Party has acted.”
As the West Stumbles, ‘Helmsman’ Xi Pushes an Ambitious Plan for China
China’s leader emerged from a key Communist Party meeting newly emboldened, outlining a road map for the country for years to come. Some have warned of overreach.
The United States is embroiled in a bitter presidential race and a surge in coronavirus infections. Europe is locking down again. In Beijing, by contrast, Xi Jinping is exuding confidence that he and China can emerge from the pandemic stronger and unbowed.
A Communist Party conclave concluded on Thursday with a rousing statement lauding Mr. Xi as the party’s helmsman, affirming his broad mandate as the leader who will steer China through perilous waters for years to come. The meeting of the Central Committee, a council of senior officials, laid out ambitions for China to mature as an economic, military and cultural power despite rising uncertainty abroad.
With Mr. Xi as “the core navigator and helmsman,” an official summary from the meeting read, “we will certainly be able to conquer the range of hardships and dangers that lie on the path forward.”
Mr. Xi has used the meeting to show that he remains unchallenged and resurgent nine months after the coronavirus plunged China into its worst crisis in decades. Without mentioning the missteps that marred China’s initial response to the virus outbreak, the committee’s 200 or so voting members praised the country’s “major strategic achievement” in largely stifling the outbreak.
The party elite’s show of unity behind Mr. Xi shored up his political dominance and will help him as he pushes for technological, social and economic advances to make China and its ruling party more resilient in a post-pandemic world. China, the party officials said, faces “new tensions and challenges engendered by intricately complicated international conditions.”
“He is trying to convince the party that only he, Xi Jinping, has the political resources, the experience and the determination to pull China through,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who has long studied Chinese politics.
As other leaders and nations turn inward, consumed by crises, Mr. Xi appears keen to press the message that the party’s grip on power is secure and the country can play a greater role internationally. Party propaganda has asserted that China’s success in extinguishing Covid-19 infections shows its overall “institutional superiority,” and Beijing has promised to share a potential vaccine for the coronavirus.
Even so, Mr. Xi must tackle some of the most serious economic and geopolitical challenges China has faced in many years.
The coronavirus crisis has slowed China’s economic growth, increased unemployment and hurt the country’s global standing. Relations with the United States have reached a new low, brought down by disputes over trade, technology and human rights. Western governments have turned against Beijing over crackdowns on protest in the semiautonomous city of Hong Kong and on Muslim minorities in China’s west. Chinese military moves have rattled neighbors.
“China has done a pretty good job by itself in putting together a loose, global anti-China coalition,” said Bilahari Kausikan, a former diplomat from Singapore who is now chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. “I cannot think of any serious country — with a big economy or even some with small economies — that does not have some concerns about China and Chinese behavior.”
With Mr. Xi’s position secure, a dramatic shift in Chinese policy seems unlikely. He is expected to push for another five-year term as the Communist Party’s leader, beginning in 2022, meaning his highly personalized rule could last another decade or more.
By then, he would have ruled longer than any other Chinese leader except Mao Zedong. Mao was also praised as the “great helmsman,” though in referring to Mr. Xi on Thursday, the committee used different characters for the term helmsman.
“This is a big show for Xi Jinping to try to convince the senior cadres that he deserves support to remain supreme leader well beyond 10 years,” Mr. Lam, the analyst, said.
Mr. Xi’s vision for China’s rise rests on strengthening the Communist Party’s reach into society and making technological advances to expand domestic consumption, upgrade industry, clean up the environment and protect the country from security threats. These goals formed the thrust of the party’s plans for the next five years, a draft of which the Central Committee endorsed on Thursday.
“The dominant tone is that China has major opportunities for growth, for managing the process of decoupling in its own favor, and for setting the terms for the next stage of globalization,” said Julian B. Gewirtz, a senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “This is really an extraordinary tone to hear at a moment where it is not just the United States that is continuing to struggle with the pandemic.”
For Mr. Xi, the party meeting highlighted how China’s success in dealing with the coronavirus revived his political fortunes after setbacks early this year. Chinese officials initially played down the threat of the virus, and as infections multiplied, Mr. Xi faced a sharp surge of public anger.
Coming less than a week before the United States votes, the Chinese party meeting offered a stark contrast to the raucous wrangling of democratic politics. The Central Committee met behind closed doors, and if there was any internal dissension, propaganda overseers ensured that it did not leak.
After the meeting ended, Chinese television news showed Mr. Xi entering the meeting hall to sustained applause. The officials listening earnestly to his speech did not wear masks, a sign of China’s confidence that it has controlled the virus.
“The contrast between the current state of the United States and China, especially about Covid and the economy, has got to be a huge resource for Xi in terms of domestic support,” said Susan L. Shirk, the chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California San Diego, who was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration.
“We’re in the campaign period for the 20th Party Congress” in 2022, she said. “There is no successor in sight, and every indication is that he’ll want to stay on for a third term.”
Mr. Xi’s move to end the two-term limit on the presidency has held off contention over a potential successor that would otherwise have been in full swing by now, eight years into his tenure. That 2018 decision ignited criticism about the danger of concentrating power in one supreme leader, but now seems to be accepted as reality. Few insiders believe that Mr. Xi will retire in two years.
Mr. Xi, 67, has not publicly said how long he wants to stay in office. For now, though, he has made no move to nurture, or at least identify publicly, a successor. He still must build support in the elite for staying on. Mr. Xi’s recent rhetoric, suffused with warnings of risks to China’s rise, appeared to form part of that effort, said Joseph Fewsmith, a professor at Boston University who studies Chinese politics.
“The case for remaining on can be built around a sense of impending crisis when the experienced hand has to stay,” Professor Fewsmith said by telephone.
More pointedly, faced with escalating pressure from the United States, Mr. Xi used a speech this month marking 70 years since China’s entry into the Korean War to warn that “the Chinese people don’t go looking for trouble, but nor do they fear it.”
The Central Committee said that China would make “major strides” in modernizing its military and would strengthen the training of troops for war readiness. China’s national security apparatus — already formidable — would also be fortified, the committee also said.
Some scholars have argued that China’s pugnacious approach to foreign affairs — which has drawn accusations that Beijing uses hostage diplomacy and economic coercion — has intensified its geopolitical challenges. But Mr. Xi’s unassailable grip on power suggests few in the leadership would risk proposing a shift in strategy.
Mr. Xi has also urged China to step up technological “self-reliance,” laying out a new economic strategy that, without closing the door to foreign investors, will try to make China less vulnerable to external shocks. The Trump administration has sought to restrict Chinese companies’ access to American-held technology and prevent Chinese companies from rolling out their 5G smartphone services in the United States and other Western countries.
In the coming years, China should “make major breakthroughs in crucial, core technologies,” the Central Committee said, “entering the front ranks of innovative countries.”
Amber Wang contributed research from Beijing.
Turkish Bank Case Showed Erdogan’s Influence With Trump
New details of the Justice Department’s handling of the accusations against Halkbank reveal how Turkey’s leader pressured the president, prompting concern from top White House aides.
WASHINGTON — Geoffrey S. Berman was outraged.
The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Mr. Berman had traveled to Washington in June 2019 to discuss a particularly delicate case with Attorney General William P. Barr and some of his top aides: a criminal investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank suspected of violating U.S. sanctions law by funneling billions of dollars of gold and cash to Iran.
For months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had been pressing President Trump to quash the investigation, which threatened not only the bank but potentially members of Mr. Erdogan’s family and political party. When Mr. Berman sat down with Mr. Barr, he was stunned to be presented with a settlement proposal that would give Mr. Erdogan a key concession.
Mr. Barr pressed Mr. Berman to allow the bank to avoid an indictment by paying a fine and acknowledging some wrongdoing. In addition, the Justice Department would agree to end investigations and criminal cases involving Turkish and bank officials who were allied with Mr. Erdogan and suspected of participating in the sanctions-busting scheme.
Mr. Berman didn’t buy it.
The bank had the right to try to negotiate a settlement. But his prosecutors were still investigating key individuals, including some with ties to Mr. Erdogan, and believed the scheme had helped finance Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“This is completely wrong,” Mr. Berman later told lawyers in the Justice Department, according to people who were briefed on the proposal and his response. “You don’t grant immunity to individuals unless you are getting something from them — and we wouldn’t be here.”
It was not the first time Mr. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, had fended off attempts by top Justice Department political appointees to disrupt the Halkbank investigation.
Six months earlier, Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting attorney general who ran the department from November 2018 until Mr. Barr arrived in February 2019, rejected a request from Mr. Berman for permission to file criminal charges against the bank, two lawyers involved in the investigation said. Mr. Whitaker blocked the move shortly after Mr. Erdogan repeatedly pressed Mr. Trump in a series of conversations in November and December 2018 to resolve the Halkbank matter.
The president’s apparent eagerness to please Mr. Erdogan has drawn scrutiny for years. So has the scale and intensity of the lobbying effort by Turkey on issues like its demand for the extradition of one of Mr. Erdogan’s political rivals, a Turkish religious leader living in self-imposed exile in the United States. Mr. Erdogan had a big political stake in the outcome, because the case had become a major embarrassment for him in Turkey.
At the White House, Mr. Trump’s handling of the matter became troubling even to some senior officials at the time.
The president was discussing an active criminal case with the authoritarian leader of a nation in which Mr. Trump does business; he reported receiving at least $2.6 million in net income from operations in Turkey from 2015 through 2018, according to tax records obtained by The New York Times.
And Mr. Trump’s sympathetic response to Mr. Erdogan was especially jarring because it involved accusations that the bank had undercut Mr. Trump’s policy of economically isolating Iran, a centerpiece of his Middle East plan.
Former White House officials said they came to fear that the president was open to swaying the criminal justice system to advance a transactional and ill-defined agenda of his own.
“He would interfere in the regular government process to do something for a foreign leader,” John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, said in a recent interview. “In anticipation of what? In anticipation of another favor from that person down the road.”
In the case of Halkbank, it was only after an intense foreign policy clash between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan over Syria last fall that the United States would proceed to lodge charges against the bank, though not against any additional individuals. Yet the administration’s bitterness over Mr. Berman’s unwillingness to go along with Mr. Barr’s proposal would linger, and ultimately contribute to Mr. Berman’s dismissal.
The Justice Department initially declined to comment, but after this article was published online, a department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, provided a statement emphasizing that Mr. Barr had backed the decision last fall to indict the bank.
“The attorney general instructed S.D.N.Y. to move ahead with charges and approved the charges brought,” she said, referring to the federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
This account is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former Turkish and U.S. government officials, lobbyists and lawyers with direct knowledge of the interactions. Representatives for the Turkish government, Halkbank and the White House declined to comment.
Turkey had mounted an elaborate influence campaign in Washington to deal with Halkbank. It predated Mr. Trump’s election but came to encompass a broad cast of players, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor; Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser; and Brian D. Ballard, a lobbyist and fund-raiser for the president.
After senior Turkish government officials lobbied Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mr. Trump, Mr. Mnuchin pressed the Justice Department not to impose too large a fine on Halkbank because Turkey could not afford it, two federal officials said. Mr. Mnuchin’s office declined to comment on Halkbank but added that the Treasury and Justice Departments “routinely consult and coordinate” on sanctions cases and fines.
Mr. Bolton and others said they could not fully explain why Mr. Trump seemed so determined to please Mr. Erdogan.
“This was a relationship that was really important for the United States to handle,” said Fiona Hill, who oversaw policy on Turkey and Europe for the National Security Council under Mr. Trump. “And at every turn, the president kept leaping in, and he wasn’t following the strategic threads of the relationship.”
The Halkbank Campaign
Turkey’s lobbying campaign had started before Mr. Trump took office.
During a one-day visit to the country in August 2016 by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Turkish president pulled Mr. Biden aside under a tree for a private conversation, according to an aide to the vice president on the trip.
The investigation of Halkbank, Mr. Erdogan claimed, was a “big conspiracy” instigated by his rival Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Muslim cleric. Mr. Gulen left Turkey in the late 1990s and moved to Pennsylvania, where, in Mr. Erdogan’s telling, he plotted an unsuccessful coup attempt just a month earlier, according to a summary of the conversation provided to The Times by the Biden aide.
Mr. Erdogan asked Mr. Biden to remove Preet Bharara, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. That office was in the early stages of an investigation into Halkbank and had already indicted a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, for helping to orchestrate the sanctions-evasion scheme.
Mr. Erdogan also wanted the Obama administration to remove the judge overseeing Mr. Zarrab’s case in Manhattan, the Biden aide said. And he wanted Mr. Zarrab released and allowed to return to Turkey.
According to the Biden aide’s account, Mr. Erdogan said that if the United States really meant what it said about repairing relations, the case needed to go away.
Speaking to reporters before he left Turkey, Mr. Biden made clear that there were limits to what the United States could or should do to address Mr. Erdogan’s requests, including any effort to extradite Mr. Gulen.
“If the president were to take this into his own hands, what would happen would be he would be impeached for violating the separation of powers,” Mr. Biden said, with Mr. Erdogan at his side.
The Turkish president did not give up. He again raised Halkbank with Mr. Biden during a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, and then twice in calls with President Barack Obama in the weeks before he left office in January 2017, aides to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden said.
In an interview, Mr. Bharara said he never heard questions about the Halkbank investigation from anyone at the Obama White House or the attorney general’s office.
Mr. Trump’s election brought an immediate shift in Turkey’s outreach effort.
“I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well,” Mr. Trump said in 2015. “They’re amazing people, they’re incredible people. They have a strong leader.”
In Turkey, there was confidence that Mr. Erdogan’s agenda would now win attention and support at the highest levels of the U.S. administration.
“Top leadership in Turkey felt that Trump would be a tough-minded businessman, but a businessman they could work with,” Robert Amsterdam, a lobbyist for Turkey, recalled.
Indictments and Testimony About Erdogan
Once Mr. Trump took office, there were early hints that Mr. Erdogan’s message was getting through to the White House.
The National Security Council asked the Education Department about a network of charter schools, partly funded with federal money, that were said to be linked to Mr. Gulen, the Erdogan rival who was living in Pennsylvania. The agency was then asked if the money could be blocked, one official involved in the conversations said. But Education Department officials resisted, saying they did not have the legal authority to stop the funding.
The White House encountered a similar lack of enthusiasm at the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., which received requests to investigate Mr. Gulen and look for ways to perhaps force him out of the United States, officials involved in the efforts said. The F.B.I. declined to comment.
In the meantime, the effort by Turkey to resolve the Halkbank case intensified.
Records show that the bank and the Turkish government paid Mr. Ballard’s lobbying firm $4.6 million over two years for work on Halkbank and other matters, including meetings and phone calls with the vice president’s office, the State Department, members of Congress and Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers.
Mr. Ballard’s team argued that the Halkbank case was a foreign policy matter, and that the need to maintain close relations with Turkey, a NATO member, had to be taken into account.
But the investigation by the federal prosecutors in Manhattan ground ahead. By early 2018, it had led to the indictments of nine defendants, including Turkey’s former economy minister and three Halkbank officials, on charges such as bank fraud and money laundering related to the sanctions-evasion scheme.
One defendant, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the bank’s deputy general manager for international banking, was tried and, in January 2018, convicted.
Mr. Zarrab, the gold trader, had pleaded guilty and testified about how the scheme had relied on false documents and front companies, and how he had paid millions of dollars in bribes to the economy minister and Halkbank’s general manager.
He also testified that the operation had Mr. Erdogan’s knowledge and approval, as well as that of Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who now serves as Turkey’s finance minister.
When Mr. Berman was appointed U.S. attorney in January 2018, prosecutors were turning their focus to the bank itself and the possibility of charging others involved in the scheme.
Halkbank’s lawyers held repeated talks in 2018 with Mr. Berman’s office over whether a “global settlement” could be reached. But the two sides were far apart, according to people briefed on the meetings.
The prosecutors said they were prepared to allow the bank to avoid indictment if it agreed to pay a heavy fine, reform its operations and make a series of admissions about its conduct, the people who were briefed said.
But the bank’s lawyers argued that Halkbank and its executives had done nothing wrong, that they had been deceived by Mr. Zarrab, and that his testimony was untrue. They said the bank would not make the required admissions.
There were indications by then that Turkey’s arguments were being heard in Washington.
At the Treasury Department, Mr. Mnuchin considered the violations Halkbank had been accused of to be serious — and he believed the U.S. government was right to demand that the bank admit wrongdoing, according to one White House official involved in the negotiations.
But Mr. Mnuchin raised concerns about how large a fine might be imposed on Halkbank. The French banking giant Société Générale agreed that same year to pay U.S. authorities more than $2 billion to resolve charges that it had violated U.S. sanctions against Cuba and bribed officials in Libya, among other accusations.
A fine on that scale would threaten the future of Halkbank, lobbyists and lawyers for the bank argued, as did top Turkish officials in conversations with members of the Trump administration. One direct appeal to Mr. Mnuchin came from Mr. Albayrak, Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law.
In 2018, Mr. Mnuchin reached out about the scale of a potential fine to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time. Justice Department officials then asked Southern District prosecutors whether the size of the fine they were demanding was negotiable, one lawyer involved in the effort said. The response was affirmative: The amount was less important than securing an admission of wrongdoing.
“We need an admission of liability” was the message the Manhattan prosecutors sent back to Washington, according to two lawyers involved in the matter.
‘Well, It Looks Convincing to Me’
On the second day of a trip to Buenos Aires in late 2018 for the annual Group of 20 gathering of world leaders, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Erdogan for talks intended to be focused on issues like continued tensions over Islamic State operations in Syria.
But the conversation quickly went off course.
Mr. Erdogan made clear that he was frustrated with the continued pestering by Southern District prosecutors concerning Halkbank, and he wanted Mr. Trump to intervene to help wrap up the investigation, Mr. Bolton said in the interview.
Mr. Erdogan handed Mr. Trump a copy of a memo written by Halkbank’s lawyers explaining why Turkey believed the Justice Department had misconstrued U.S. sanctions law. It argued that Halkbank’s trading with Iran was not illegal, because it was largely based on trades of gold and food that were not in dollars and did not involve U.S. banks.
Mr. Trump flipped through the memo quickly, Mr. Bolton said.
“Well, it looks convincing to me,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Bolton, who also recounted the meeting in his recent book.
By Mr. Bolton’s account, Mr. Trump also told Mr. Erdogan that he wanted to replace the prosecutors in Mr. Berman’s office in Manhattan, whom Mr. Trump considered to be holdovers from the Obama era.
Two weeks later, in mid-December 2018, Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan spoke by phone. The president began by assuring Mr. Erdogan that the government and Halkbank were close to a resolution, and Mr. Erdogan expressed his appreciation, according to Mr. Bolton.
In Turkey around this time, Mr. Erdogan told reporters that Mr. Trump, in an earlier conversation about Halkbank, had assured him that Mr. Trump “would instruct the relevant ministers immediately” to take care of the matter.
Mr. Bolton said in the interview that his concern, as he listened to these conversations, was that Turkey and Halkbank now “had a direct channel in the Oval Office — they weren’t going to negotiate in good faith” with the prosecutors. “Why should they?”
Mr. Trump asked Mr. Bolton to speak with Mr. Whitaker, the acting attorney general at the time, about the case — a move Mr. Bolton said he did not make, although he added that he did not know if someone else from the White House did.
On Dec. 14, the day of the telephone call between Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Trump, the Justice Department notified the Southern District that Mr. Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the attorney general’s office would become more involved in the Halkbank case, one Justice Department official said.
The prosecutors in Manhattan had just drafted a memo for Mr. Whitaker and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, detailing why the Justice Department should give them the authority to file criminal charges against the bank, two lawyers said.
Mr. Rosenstein was convinced that the evidence was compelling, perhaps even more so than in other sanctions-evasion cases in which the United States had charged banks, lawyers familiar with the investigation said. The memo from the prosecutors also noted that the actions Halkbank was accused of taking were helping to support Iran’s economy, which was antithetical to Mr. Trump’s foreign policy goal of tightening economic pressure on the country.
Mr. Rosenstein urged Mr. Berman to come to Washington to present the Southern District’s argument to Mr. Whitaker. The goal was not to file charges immediately against the bank. Instead, the plan was to give the Southern District more leverage to squeeze Halkbank to accept a deferred prosecution agreement that included an admission of wrongdoing.
But Mr. Whitaker, who declined requests for comment, had a longstanding disdain for the Southern District, which has been called the Sovereign District for the way it guards its independence from Washington. In a book published this year, Mr. Whitaker wrote that the Southern District always “dreamed up new ways to torment President Trump throughout my tenure at the Department of Justice.”
Mr. Berman arrived at the Justice Department headquarters and reported to Mr. Rosenstein’s office. But shortly before the meeting was to begin, Mr. Rosenstein was summoned to Mr. Whitaker’s office without Mr. Berman.
Mr. Whitaker told Mr. Rosenstein that he did not want the case to move forward, and that he wanted the matter shut down, according to lawyers involved in the investigation. Mr. Whitaker cited concern that charges against the bank might result in a threat to U.S. forces in Syria, a suggestion that others in the department said they found hard to understand.
Justice Department officials decided to ignore Mr. Whitaker’s edict, concluding that they most likely would outlast Mr. Whitaker in the department, since he was serving on an acting basis. They did not see appeasing Mr. Erdogan as sufficient justification for closing the investigation.
‘This Is Not How We Do Things at the Southern District’
Mr. Barr was confirmed as the new attorney general in mid-February 2019, a few months after Mr. Whitaker had pushed to end the case. The prosecutors in Manhattan were encouraged that they might now get the charging authority they wanted.
But Mr. Erdogan and his top advisers continued to lobby Mr. Trump and members of his cabinet, including Mr. Mnuchin and now Mr. Barr.
One of the appeals came from Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, a Trump family friend who had been closely involved in developing the Trump towers in Turkey and who now leads a Turkey-U.S. business trade group. On a trip to Washington that April, he pressed administration officials about the bank.
Discussions between Halkbank and the Southern District continued, according to lawyers involved in the case. But the bank maintained its refusal to admit to wrongdoing and insisted on a deal that would end investigations and drop existing charges.
At times, the prosecutors were left with the impression that bank officials felt they had all the leverage because of the relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan.
In mid-June 2019, when Mr. Berman met with Mr. Barr in Washington, the attorney general pushed Mr. Berman to agree to allow the Justice Department to drop charges against the defendants and terminate investigations of other suspected conspirators, according to a former department lawyer familiar with the session.
Among the defendants with charges pending were Halkbank’s former general manager, Suleyman Aslan, and Turkey’s former economy minister, Mehmet Zafer Caglayan.
The suggestion that the Justice Department would offer Turkish officials protection from criminal charges, even without their agreement to assist in the investigation, was unacceptable and unethical, Mr. Berman argued, according to lawyers close to the investigation. Justice Department policy specifically says that criminal conduct by individuals is not resolved when a company admits wrongdoing.
“This is not how we do things at the Southern District,” Mr. Berman told Mr. Barr, adding that he would not agree to such a move and that his office would not be part of it.
Mr. Barr sought to persuade Mr. Berman that the so-called global settlement would enforce U.S. sanctions law and avert a rift with an ally in a volatile part of the world.
Aykan Erdemir, a former member of Turkey’s Parliament and a critic of Mr. Erdogan, who was not part of the negotiations, said such a proposal by Mr. Barr would be a gift to Mr. Erdogan and critical to his political standing in Turkey by eliminating potential criminal charges against members of his inner circle.
“That is the biggest prize that Erdogan could ever receive,” Mr. Erdemir said. “Erdogan was not trying to save the bank. He was trying to save his ministers and save himself.”
The negotiations had reached an impasse. Mr. Barr had the power to stop any new criminal charges. But to dismiss any existing cases, the federal prosecutors in Manhattan would need to seek judicial approval.
Lawyers in the Justice Department’s national security division took over the negotiations, but they also ended up frustrated, people briefed on the matter said.
In his recent book, Mr. Bolton said he had warned Mr. Barr in April 2019 about Mr. Trump’s penchant to “give personal favors to dictators.”
In the interview with The Times, Mr. Bolton said he did not know the details of Mr. Barr’s intervention in the Halkbank negotiations. But he said he was disturbed by the tenor of the interaction between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan related to Halkbank.
“It was so idiosyncratic, so personal to Trump in the pursuit of personal relationships, that it was very dangerous,” Mr. Bolton said. “And it does look like obstruction of justice.”
Just how idiosyncratic became more apparent last October, when Mr. Erdogan sent troops into Syria. Mr. Trump, who had initially given Mr. Erdogan the green light to do so, then faced an intense bipartisan backlash, leading him within days to take a tougher line with Turkey, threatening economic reprisals.
“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” Mr. Trump wrote to the Turkish leader on Oct. 9, 2019, without elaborating.
On Oct. 15, the Justice Department gave the prosecutors in Manhattan approval to file charges against Halkbank, a direct slap at Mr. Erdogan.
The prosecutors rushed to present evidence before a grand jury and secured a six-count indictment that same day charging Halkbank with money laundering, bank fraud and conspiracy to violate the Iran sanctions. So far, no additional individuals have been charged.
When the charges against the bank were announced, Mr. Berman said in a statement that the “bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme.”
In June, eight months after the indictment was returned, Mr. Trump fired Mr. Berman. Justice Department officials cited his handling of the Halkbank matter, including his blocking of the proposed global settlement, as a key reason for his removal.
Katie Benner and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.
New Terror Attacks Leave France Embattled at Home and Abroad
A man with a knife killed three people at a church in Nice, in an assault that bore similarities to the recent killing of a schoolteacher, which has shaken the country.
NICE, France — A terror attack that killed three people in Nice on Thursday left France increasingly embattled at home and abroad, as the government called for toughening measures against Islamist extremism, amid rising tensions with Muslim nations.
A knife-wielding assailant left two people dead in Nice’s towering neo-Gothic basilica, including a 60-year-old woman who was nearly decapitated, and a third victim died after taking refuge in a nearby bar.
The attack in Nice came less than two weeks after the beheading of a teacher shook the nation and led to President Emmanuel Macron suggesting that Islam was in need of an Enlightenment.
Jean-François Ricard, France’s top antiterrorism prosecutor, said the suspected killer was a Tunisian man, born in 1999, who had entered France after arriving in Italy on Sept. 20. He said the man, who was unknown to the French authorities, was arrested after lunging at police officers while yelling “Allahu akbar,” and was hospitalized with serious wounds.
“Very clearly it is France that is attacked,” Mr. Macron said after traveling quickly to Nice. French authorities placed a jittery country on its highest terrorism threat level.
The killings came at a time when the government’s recent words and deeds have put it at odds with Muslims in France and abroad, including heads of state like President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. What many French people see as their country’s uncompromising defense of its safety and free expression, many Muslims consider to be scapegoating and blasphemous insults to their religion.
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Macron called for an “Islam of enlightenment” and “an Islam that can be at peace with the republic,” in what he described as a renewed fight against radicalism and challenges to the nation’s secular ideals. Since the killing of the teacher in a suburb of Paris, his government has unfurled a wide dragnet against what it has characterized as Islamist extremism, vexing many French Muslims and stirring strong rebuke from Muslim nations.
The steps have included expelling imprisoned foreigners suspected of terrorist links, carrying out raids and rolling up a Muslim group it accuses of “advocating radical Islam” and hate speech. But few of those affected by the measures had any direct connection to the beheading of the teacher, who was killed by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee.
The scope of the government’s response and the sharp language of some of its leaders have left Mr. Macron open to criticism that he is politicizing the attack and playing to voters who might otherwise defect to his challengers on the far right. His education minister has described politicians on the left as apologists for Islamists. His interior minister has linked “political Islam” to terrorism and has even disparaged Muslim-oriented food aisles in supermarkets.
Palestinians have called for a ‘‘day of rage’’ against France. Protests and boycotts of French products have gained traction from Bangladesh to Qatar. And Muslim leaders have condemned Mr. Macron for what they describe as a kind of collective punishment of France’s Muslims.
On Thursday French officials were particularly outraged by comments on Twitter by Mahathir Mohamad, a former Malaysian prime minister, who said that Muslims had a right to “kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.” The French government quickly asked Twitter to suspend Mr. Mahathir’s account for inciting hatred and violence. The post was later removed.
None of that has shaken the resolve of the French government, or indeed much of its public, that the crackdown is justified in a country that has been the target of dozens of attacks, large and small, by Islamist extremists since 2015 that have left more than 200 dead. The most recent killings in particular — first outside a public school and then at a church — have struck at two central pillars of French identity.
“If we are attacked once more it is because of the values that are ours,” Mr. Macron said, including freedom of worship and freedom of expression. “We will not yield anything.”
Yet both inside France and outside, the assaults have inflamed a significant and fraught moment in the life of a country that has long struggled to integrate Europe’s largest Muslim population.
The killings in the Nice basilica followed nearly two months of escalating tensions that began when the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad early last month to mark the trial of alleged accomplices in the deadly 2015 attack against the publication.
Mr. Macron and other French officials fiercely defended the drawings as freedom of expression. The teacher who was beheaded had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on secularism and free expression, angering some Muslims, including the 18-year-old man, a complete stranger, who sought him out and killed him.
Thursday’s attack held disturbing echoes of that murder, and it immediately fortified calls among some French authorities for even tougher measures that could further polarize the country.
“Enough is enough,” Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, told BFM TV. “It is now time for France to exempt itself of peacetime laws to permanently annihilate Islamo-fascism from our territory.”
In Nice, as dozens of people stood outside the Notre Dame de l’Assomption basilica late Thursday afternoon, tensions were tangible — and perhaps worsened by the fact that France is about to enter a monthlong lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
As a local imam spoke to reporters and called on people not to conflate Muslims with terrorists, a resident of a local building yelled “Go away!” from her balcony.
Imen Gharbi, a 24-year-old Tunisian who has been studying art history in Nice for two years, said she was concerned about the atmosphere of the last few days. “This attack shocks me, it’s disgusting and like everyone else I condemn it, but we must not lump together Muslims and terrorists,” she said.
Ms. Gharbi, who is Muslim, said that she felt targeted by people’s comments on Islamic terrorism. “People are angry and I don’t feel safe anymore.”
Christian Aucler, a retired tax adviser, said that the beheading of the teacher and Thursday’s killing were evidence that pillars of French society were under attack.
“It is clear that there is a religion that is trying to take over our principles,” Mr. Aucler said, adding, “The French are very attached to their history, to their culture. Seeing parts of their civilization attacked and questioned is something they experience very badly.”
Mr. Ricard, said the suspect in Nice had been recorded by surveillance cameras on Thursday morning at the city’s main train station, where he could be seen turning his jacket inside out and changing shoes before making his way to the basilica. Inside the church, he said, the man cut the 60-year-old victim’s throat so deeply that she was almost decapitated.
The string of attacks over the past five years has moved France to the right politically. The caricatures in Charlie Hebdo — which many French people would once have considered juvenile, provocative and even bigoted — have become a test of France’s commitment to its secular ideals, while to many Muslims they are inherently offensive.
In 2006, when Charlie Hebdo first published the cartoons, the conservative president at the time, Jacques Chirac, denounced the publication, saying that the foundation of the Republic also rested on “the values of tolerance and the respect of all faiths.” Mr. Macron defended their republication as the “right to blasphemy.”
With an eye on the presidential election of 2022, Mr. Macron, whose popularity has been hurt by the government’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, has been moving rightward on issues like crime and the place of Islam in France.
“I think that there are some topics on which we can water down our words,” said Morgan Manzi, a 42-year-old building worker, who had come to the basilica late Thursday afternoon. “I think that peace is sometimes better than freedom of expression.”
Mr. Manzi, who described himself as an atheist, said he was worried about tension rising in recent days following comments by government officials and their uncompromising defense of the caricatures’ republication. He added, “There will be reprisals.”
The long avenue facing the Notre-Dame basilica was a swirl of rumors and comments on Thursday night, with bystanders debating immigration, the government’s antiterrorism response and the violence plaguing the country.
About 200 members of a local far-right group protested noisily outside the basilica, singing the national anthem, La Marseillaise.
Standing in the crowd was Abdelkader Sadouni, the imam who had been yelled at by the woman in her balcony.
“Our religion is light-years away from this — there’s no way any Muslim would approve of this,” he said. But he worried aloud that terrorist attacks had instilled a fear of Islam in the national psyche.
Mr. Sadouni said that terrorists were “breaking this national union to which we aspire.”
“It worries me, that’s what they’re looking for, and they’re succeeding,” he said.
Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut reported from Nice. Reporting was contributed by Aurelien Breeden in Paris and Elian Peltier and Megan Specia in London.