Turkey jails local head of Amnesty over suspected Gülen links

Turkey jails local head of Amnesty over suspected Gülen links

Turkey jails local head of Amnesty over suspected Gülen links A Turkish court has formally arrested Amnesty International’s chairman in the country pending trial on charges of “membership in a terror organization.”

Taner Kılıç, along with 22 other lawyers in the western province of İzmir, was detained on June 6 for suspected links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is widely believed to have orchestrated the July 15, 2016, failed coup.

“The Turkish prosecution’s decision to charge Taner Kılıç ... with ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ is a mockery of justice, and highlights the devastating impact of the Turkish authorities’ crackdown following the failed coup attempt in July last year,” Amnesty said in a statement on June 9. 

It said he was being charged with using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app used by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, but Amnesty said he had denied using the app in his testimony.
Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International, said the charges were without merit and not an indication of a criminal act, while the arrests were a disregard of human rights and an attempt to silence all those who defend them.

“The charges ... show just how arbitrary, just how sweeping, the Turkish government’s frenzied pursuit of its perceived enemies and critics has become,” Shetty said.

Shetty demanded Kılıç’s immediate release and the dropping of all charges against him.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, also expressed dismay over Kılıç’s arrest and called for his release in the absence of credible evidence. 

Kılıç’s detention is part of “the worrying trend of judicial actions currently targeting human rights defenders and an increasingly wide range of other civil society actors in Turkey,” Muznieks said.