Istanbul court keeps regional Amnesty chief Taner Kılıç behind bars   

Istanbul court keeps regional Amnesty chief Taner Kılıç behind bars   

ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Istanbul court keeps regional Amnesty chief Taner Kılıç behind bars

An Istanbul court ruled on Nov. 22 that the head of Amnesty International in Turkey should remain in prison, the British campaigning group said.

Amnesty’s Turkey chair Taner Kılıç was detained in June on accusations of membership of the organisation led by the U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen, accused of masterminding last year’s failed coup attempt.

Amnesty said in a statement that Kılıç, who has spent almost six months under arrest, was ordered in the latest trial hearing to remain in detention despite statements from lawyers and a witness who “demolished the prosecution’s arguments.”

“The court’s decision to ignore this evidence and continue his detention flies in the face of reason. It is yet another opportunity missed to correct a gross injustice,” said John Dalhuisen, director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia programme.

The next hearing has been set for Jan. 31. Amnesty said Kılıç told the court that he has been held with 23 other people in an eight-person cell.

His case was merged last month with those of 10 other rights activists including Amnesty’s Turkey director İdil Eser, who were detained in July on contested terror charges after holding a workshop on an island off Istanbul.

Prosecutors accuse Kılıç of having prior knowledge of preparations for the Istanbul workshop.

Eser, German activist Peter Steudtner, Swedish colleague Ali Gharavi and five others were freed last month for the duration of the trial where they are accused of “aiding” an armed terror group.     

Two others had been released by the court previously, while Steudtner and Gharavi had already returned home. All remain charged and on trial.

The defendants are suspected of links to Gülen and other outlawed organizations including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July said the activists had been taken into custody after a tip-off that they were working against the government, comparing them to those involved in the coup bid.