US deeply concerned by Turkish detainment of Amnesty International local chair
WASHINGTON - Agence France-PresseThe United States urged its ally Turkey to respect due process on June 7 after police detained the local chair of Amnesty International for suspected links to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, widely believed to have been behind the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
Washington was “deeply concerned” about the detainment of Taner Kılıç, who was among 23 detained on June 6 in Izmir, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
Kılıç was only “the latest in a series of respected human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and activists detained in Turkey,” Nauety said in a statement.
“The detentions of individuals such as Mr. Kılıç chill public debate and undermine the quality of democracy,” she said.
Kılıç was detained by police at his home in İzmir early on June 6 before being taken to his office, Amnesty stated. Both properties were searched and he remains in police custody.
His detention did not appear to be connected to his work with the rights group, nor did it appear to specifically target the organization, Amnesty said. It was unclear why he was suspected of having links to what prosecutors and the government call the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), it added.
Over 100,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from the public sector under a state of emergency imposed a few days after the July 2016 attempted coup and renewed three times.
Rights groups have previously criticized the arrests, saying it has extended well beyond coup attempt suspects to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s opponents.
The U.S. statement suggested that Washington has some sympathy for that view.
“These detentions, often with little evidence or transparency, are an alarming trend,” Nauert said.
“We are closely following these cases, and underscore the importance of respect for due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution and consistent with Turkey’s own international commitments,” she added.
“As we have expressed to the Turkish government on numerous occasions, persistent curbs on free speech and other freedoms erode the foundations of democratic society.”
In addition, the European Union said on June 8 that it would keep a close eye on the country’s treatment of Kılıç.
The EU called on Turkey “to clarify the charges swiftly” and reminded Ankara to “fully respect the presumption of innocence.”